Palo Alto recently broke ground on a $4.2 million renovation and expansion of Boulware Park that is set for completion in fall 2024 and marks the city’s first park expansion in 20 years.

“We’re so excited to finally begin construction on this major park upgrade in the Ventura neighborhood, which furthers our priority on community health and safety,” Mayor Lydia Kou said in a statement Thursday. “This park expansion provides more options for the community to safely connect and offers children a place to play and explore within a natural setting.”

While the park will maintain its current amenities — including its basketball court, playground, tot playground, picnic area and open grass area — the 0.8-acre expansion will add a new playground area with a tot lot, climbing dome, slide and climbing structure, walking paths, bocce court, shaded picnic area, dog park, grassy meadow, bio-filtration planter and more, the city said in a news release.

City officials break ground Sept. 8, 2023, on the expansion of Boulware Park, Palo Alto’s first major park expansion project in 20 years. (City of Palo Alto)

The project budget is $4.2 million, of which $219,000 was secured from state Proposition 68 grant funding, the city said.

The new park project will be 2.4 acres when completed and will be built with sustainability in mind, the city said. The park will be closed for safety during the project duration.

The original Boulware Park renovation was planned to start in 2017, but in 2018 the city was able to purchase adjacent land from AT&T to expand the park.

Focusing on the environment

The design, made with extensive community input since 2019, will be done by contractor OBS Engineering Inc.

The park will feature a variety of environmentally friendly features, the city said. All water will be captured on site and filtered, and native trees and shrubs will be planted throughout the park.

A fence surrounds Boulware Park in August at the start of a year-long improvement project that will add 0.8 acre to the property and bring a new playground area, walking paths, bocce court, picnic area and other amenities. (Cedric de La Beaujardiere/Google)

The open turf area will be composed of a drought-tolerant native grass mix, which will reduce both water and mowing needs.

Matadero Creek is highlighted in the park design, with an eye towards the possible future naturalization of the creek, the city said, adding that the park will save thousands of gallons of water a year through reduced irrigation needs.

Originally named South Palo Alto Neighborhood Park, Boulware Park was renamed after John Wesley Boulware, who arrived in Palo Alto in October 1852 at the age of 22 by ox team from Kentucky. Boulware farmed a ranch of 160 acres, which includes the location of Boulware Park, and was noted for inventing a ventilated fruit storage box.

“This park expansion provides more options for the community to safely connect and offers children a place to play and explore within a natural setting.”

Mayor Lydia Kou

He was a Santa Clara County supervisor and was on the local school district board. Boulware Park land was acquired by the city in 1965.

Aside from Boulware Park, Palo Alto has three community centers, more than 4,000 acres of open space and urban parkland including 43 miles of trails, two nature interpretive centers, four community gardens, four dog parks, dozens of sports fields, 36 parks, and 39 playgrounds. The city also offers the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo, a golf course, and the Palo Alto Art Center.