The Enchanted Hills Community Park began as 22 acres of blighted land, often used for illegal dumping of everything from tires and bottles to sofas and a boat! Now with lots of community elbow grease, Prop 68 funding secured and projects designs at 100%, the next year will see it emerge as a beautiful new green space, complete with a skate spot, accessible playgrounds, splash pad, basketball courts, exercise equipment, and much more!
Creating new parks out of underutilized land is a rewarding and challenging process that, for the City of Perris, began with an open field and a vision. The City knew they could do great things with this space with the proper resources, and in 2019, hired Interwest Consulting Group to provide grant writing and Community Engagement services to apply for a competitive Statewide Prop 68 Grant.
The application process is very involved and requires extensive data compilation, skilled grant writing and outreach creativity to produce a package to impress the State of California Grants Department Selection Committee. Interwest worked with the City to advertise, organize and deliver seven Community Engagement Events which included visits to the local high school and senior center, the chance for students and seniors to design their dream park, and a final outreach event at the project site with games, food, a rock wall, and a raffle. Each of these events were opportunities to inform residents of the City’s plans for the park and to hear which amenities were most important to the community. The data collected both through polls and personal conversations with locals was the driving force in the end design and was crucial to creating a compelling and unique grant application which captured the story of the community and its desires for the future. Our team came up with a number of “wow factors” that we knew would impress the judges, including a series of intergenerational charrette exercises to encourage the youth to work with seniors to collaboratively develop park concepts.
The finished product was a work of art and our team felt we had a winning application on our hands. The State felt the same and awarded the City of Perris $8.5 million, the maximum award possible. Not only did the grant win the award, but the State also utilized the grant application in their “best practice” grant guide booklet for the Round 4 in 2021. City staff repeatedly rave about our services, attention to detail, work ethic, work product and ability to over-deliver and continually impress. Said Richard Belmudez, City Manager, “Interwest Consulting Group is a great partner to the City of Perris. They were instrumental in the vision, financing and now construction of the 22-acre Enchanted Hills Park. Their passion, professionalism and commitment were instrumental in bringing the project to fruition.”
With the grant awarded, our work is still not done! Interwest continues to partner with the City of Perris to oversee the design process and provide value engineering and plan checking of the park improvement plans, including grading, water and sewer, landscape improvement, electrical, and building plans. As the project progresses, Interwest will provide project and subconsultant management, inspection, and storm monitoring services.
Interwest firmly believes that “Parks Make Life Better” – now more than ever! We look forward to our continued partnership on this endeavor and to seeing the City’s dream of a beautiful new park become a reality. We also look forward to repeating this process as the City has retained us to apply for two new park grants in the coming year.