Manila marches boldly into the future

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

MANILA – An improved playing field, a new dog park, a multi-use basketball court under a pavilion and a new playground for toddlers are among the proposed improvements for Manila Community Park.

Ideas for the 11-acre park were discussed Jan. 21 by the Manila Community Services District Board of Directors, which intends to submit a grant application to the Prop. 68 Statewide Park Program by the March 12 deadline.

The district is working with GHD, an engineering company, to further refine a lengthy list of ideas for the park. The company will develop cost estimates for various projects and bring them back to the board before the grant application is submitted.

Brett Vivyan of GHD told the board that the district may apply for $1 million to $2 million in funding for Manila Community Park, which is located along Humboldt Bay and includes a 9-basket disc golf course.

In preparation for the grant application, the Redwood Community Action Agency worked with the Peninsula Community Collaborative to conduct a detailed survey of local residents. The collaborative held online meetings and park tours and created a long list of ideas submitted by participants,

One idea that had wide-spread support is to reconfigure the disc golf course and separate it from hiking trails. 

Another idea is the remove the existing campground, which has been a source of complaints for years. Neighbors have complained of derelict RVs staying too long at the campground and of visitors stealing stuff out of yards.

“There was all sorts of stuff going on over there,” Board President Jan Bramlett told her fellow directors.

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In 2014, Bramlett and former board member Joy Dellas created a plan for upgrading the campground, which has two sites for RVs and one for a caretaker. The proposal called for improving the landscaping, building bathrooms and showers accessible with a password and marketing the sites online to attract tourists.

Bramlett said she has changed her mind and now considers the campground a burden that should be removed. “The upkeep, I think, is impossible,” Bramlett said.

Manila CSD Manager Chris Drop said that the campground has been closed since the pandemic began. But even when it was open, it didn’t generate much revenue.

“It doesn’t make money. It doesn’t really pay for itself,” Drop said.

One idea is to close the campground and use the area for a dog park.

The board also discussed whether to continue having a caretaker at the park.

The district has a contract with one of its employees, Margaret Melling, to serve as a caretaker at the park. In exchange for running the campground, cleaning the bathrooms and opening and closing a gate at the park, the caretaker receives a space in the park for her RV. 

Several of the district’s board members are new and said they were hesitant to make any decisions about the campground or caretaker without further research. 

The Jan. 21 meeting began with only three board members – Bramlett, Danielle Muniz and Sequoyah Faulk. The three directors voted unanimously to appoint Dave Jannetta to a vacant seat. Jannetta moved to Manila five months ago from Philadelphia. He is an assistant professor of film at Humboldt State.

Jannetta fills a seat vacated by Libby Tonning, who resigned Dec. 18. At its meeting in February, the board may fill a seat recently vacated by Carla Osborn.







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