Castle Rock State Park is a gem that, until now, hasn’t been polished. Parking for visitors is in a dirt parking lot – muddy in the winter – or along a busy highway. The “facilities” consist of a stinky pit toilet, and no water.
That’s going to change. The Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved plans by Sempervirens Fund to create a new entryway to the park, known for its good rock climbing and hiking trails.
By this time next year, the entryway on Skyline Boulevard will be moved and will have a paved parking lot with 90 spaces (with solar-powered pay stations), restrooms (complete with flush toilets) and drinking fountains (the park has none.) Picnicking areas, a zero-net energy visitor center building with displays to advise guests on hiking/climbing options, an outdoor amphitheater and trail-head signs will be added.
The amenities are intended for more than beautification. The plans were devised in 2013, two years after Gov. Jerry Brown proposed closing 70 state parks, including Castle Rock, which didn’t generate income. Sempervirens Fund, which led the effort in 1968 to make Castle Rock a state park, stepped in to pay operating costs for three years. Sempervirens Fund then secured a $1.5 million donation from Hewlett-Packard executive Robert Kirkwood, for the entryway improvements.
Reed Holderman, executive director of Sempervirens Fund, says the idea is to build a sustainable “next generation” design of state parks that reflects the 21st century demographic. Parking fees will generate income to make the park economically sustainable – and keep it off any future closure list.
After the visitor center is built, Sempervirens plans to hand over the facility to the California State Parks department, along with a $1 million stewardship fund.
This is the most significant improvement to a state park in Santa Cruz County in many, many years. New water and restroom facilities will provide much needed basic services for Santa Cruz County residents and visitors to this popular park.
The new parking lot, along with prohibiting parking along the highly-traveled Highway 35 (Skyline Boulevard) near the new entrance, is a critically needed public safety feature in this plan.
Thanks to the Sempervirens Fund for leading the way to make this happen.