Recreation Center Effort

Mariposa County Recreation Center information

Mariposa County is currently working to obtain a grant for $8.5M from the Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program Grant Funds (Proposition 68) for a Mariposa County Community Recreation Center on the Southeast Corner of the Pfremmer Parcel and Adjacent to the Mariposa Creek Parkway. 

How will the PROJECT benefit the HEALTH and quality of life for youth, seniors, and families

by improving the community’s recreational, social, cultural, environmental, educational, and

economic conditions?


Mariposa County is home to thousands of kids, families, adults, and seniors who crave

recreational outlets. And yet, despite being slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island, our

county does not have a single community recreational center. Even though Mariposa is the

birthplace of sport rock climbing, 98% of our population have no way to access it through safe

and low-cost means. Additionally, Mariposa’s population is limited to basic recreational and

athletic opportunities. If someone wished to explore an interest in aerial silks, mixed martial

arts, or parkour they would be forced to drive long distances and spend large amounts of

money. Other sports considered more mainstream such as gymnastics are equally out of reach

due to the lack of available facilities within the county’s 1463 square miles.



The facility will foster healthy relationships by creating a place where Mariposa’s richly diverse

demographic groups can come together. Yosemite National Park draws visitors, researchers,

and staff from all over the world, bringing with them a diversity of languages, cultures,

perspectives and opinions. Local residents include ranchers, hospitality workers, professionals,

small businesses, and government employees, increasing the diversity of political perspectives,

lifestyles, careers, and socioeconomic backgrounds present in our tiny mountain community. By

providing a place in which people can come together to share activities and fun, the

recreational center will create fertile soil in which appreciation, understanding, and friendships

can grow. In addition, the facility would offer a much-needed refuge and distraction from the

challenges of domestic abuse, drug use, and low self-esteem, common in our rural, depressed,

mountain community. Finally, the center could serve as a senior services center, thus

encouraging people of all ages and abilities to interact with one another regularly. Classes in

cooking, yoga, quilting, poetry, and dance could be offered to seniors and teens, parents and

young children. We envision a community recreation center vigorously utilized by all residents

of and visitors to Mariposa.


Mariposa is a community with a unique blend of different cultures. For example, there are

ranching, climbing, and Native American communities all residing within the county lines. These

groups are socially distinct and separate from one another. Many people who grow up in the

ranching community have never had opportunities to climb, and most residents are not aware

of the rich Native American history in the county. The recreation center would be a place to

unite these communities, celebrate them, and most importantly, foster more respect among

people from these different backgrounds. The center would also be parturient to the artistic

growth of the community. A music studio would support burgeoning musicians, and art classes

would enable people from all walks of life to express themselves. The walls of the recreation

center would serve as a blank slate for art exhibitions brought in from the local schools and

ever-changing murals as beautiful as the landscapes that envelope Mariposa county. A

recreation center is essential for the cultural health of Mariposa.


Mariposa County is no stranger to the devastation of wildfires. Large wildfires burn in our

country each summer, causing large numbers of community members to be evacuated. The

Ferguson Fire in 2018 evacuated over 1,500 residents, while the Detwiller Fire in 2017

evacuated over 5,000 county residents. A recreational facility in our county would offer a space

for a wildfire shelter complete with cots, commercial kitchen, Wi-Fi, and showers for evacuees.

The charred landscape surrounding the proposed center location serves as a stark reminder of

how close the Detwiler Fire came to destroying the town of Mariposa. It could serve as a

demonstration site for Cal Fire to build fire breaks, practice vegetation management

techniques, and maintain “defensible space” for the center and the town.

The recreation center would also become an example of sustainable building technologies in

our county by utilizing techniques and materials such as solar power, greywater systems,

radiant heat capture, and recycled building materials. We also envision building the facility in a

way that enhances and blends with the surrounding environment, rather than imposing itself

on it. In our county, students have very little access to environmental education. School

gardens are rare and poorly maintained. The area surrounding the facility is located along

Mariposa Creek in rich alluvial soil, ideally suited for the development of a community garden.

In addition, the University of California Cooperative Extension offices would move to the center,

enabling UCCE staff to oversee the garden as a demonstration site for the Master Gardener

program. UCCE also provides a robust 4-H program that would be accessible to students

without requiring transportation after school. Crops could be donated to community service

groups like Manna House and Heritage House in addition to senior services and school meal

programs. In so many ways the facility will serve as a model for sustainable living in Mariposa.


Building a community recreational center is a fantastic way for children and adults alike to

broaden their mental capacities. The center is the perfect place to start Mariposa’s first

community garden. Gardens can teach about sustainable agriculture, healthy eating habits, and

it can create a great, and fun, way to get exercise. Gardening has been proven to reduce stress,

lower blood pressure and cholesterol, decrease depression, and more. In addition, the

recreation center would be a great place to have a community kitchen. Classes could be taught

on healthy eating habits, cooking, and lessons in cultural cuisine. California is the most diverse

state in the nation and cooking is a terrific way to learn about culture and ethnicity. Over ⅔ of

the nation’s population are either obese or overweight. A 2018 Community Health Assessment

revealed that 44.7% of 7th graders in Mariposa County are overweight or obese, a higher

percentage than the overall state of California. In a study of youth living in public housing, a

community gardening and nutrition program led not only to increased gardening and nutrition

knowledge, but also to greater self-efficacy (belief in one’s capability to perform a task).

Underachieving students participating in a garden-based curriculum have been found to

experience improvements in self-esteem and academic achievement, according to the US

Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lastly, a recreational center would provide a

multipurpose space to host study halls and tutoring sessions for struggling students. Mariposa

is in need of a study space for struggling students as well as those who need a safe place to

work on assignments. A recreation center could provide an optimal learning environment for

those of all ages.


A downtown recreation center will provide many economic benefits to Mariposa. It would

allow the community to host events to attract people from out of the area like sports, dance, or

climbing competitions, as well as act as a space for local businesses to host fundraisers. Small

businesses could rent out space to teach exercise classes and the downtown location of the

recreation center means visitors will go into other local businesses too. Studies show that

people choose place first, job second when deciding where to build a life and raise a family.

75% of corporate executives rated quality of life features like parks and open space as

important when choosing a location for their business. A study by the Urban Institute and the

New York Academy of Medicine determined that public health cost savings can be maximized if

recreational facility programs promote physical activity alongside better nutrition and smoking

prevention. Programs that did both saved $5 for every $1 invested. Economic activity is

enhanced by recreational facilities. Parks and recreation space serve as a hub of social activity

in a community, and people will often spend money when they gather together. Restaurants

and businesses located near parks frequently report an increase in customers when games or

events are held at the park. Out-of-town guests also generate economic activity near parks and

recreation space, even in small communities. While we tend to think of Yosemite National Park

when we think about recreational tourism in Mariposa, many people take day trips to smaller,

more local recreational destinations, too. These day trips involve purchasing gas and food in the

local economy. Overall, a recreation center would enhance the local economy, in turn

improving the quality of life for local residents.

What CHALLENGES are present within the community that contributes to the need for the


Lack of Recreational Centers in Mariposa

A recent study conducted by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) defined

baseline level of recreational services for communities by population and geographic size.

According to the resulting indicators, Mariposa County should have 2 recreational centers. We

currently have none. Mariposa lacks athletic facilities for the public to use and dedicated places

to support community recreation classes such as boxing, dance, tai chi, sewing, painting,

cooking and gymnastics. In a recreational center, there would be a game room full of active

games like ping pong, pool, foosball, and air hockey as well as places to study and relax. One of

the main goals of the recreational center is to make it accessible to the entire community,

ensuring as much of the facility as possible is available for public use. The recreational center

will also include rooms that small businesses could rent by the hour to cover utility,

maintenance, and custodial expenses only in which they could provide all sorts of exercise

classes. This will give the businesses the space they need to hold these activities, as well as

provide a place to store equipment for the activities.

Help children cope with Adverse Childhood Experiences

Children who are abused or neglected, including those who witness violence, often exhibit

emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems, such as anxiety, depression, difficulty in school,

alcohol and drug use, and early sexual activity, placing them at higher risk for health and social

problems as adults. The rate of substantiated abuse and neglect (Adverse Childhood

Experiences ACEs) in Mariposa County has been consistently higher than that observed

statewide, although it has been steadily declining since 2010 as a result of the implementation

of new practices creating supportive partnerships with parents, according to a 2018 Community

Health Needs Assessment. A recreational center would help to continue this trend by giving

youth a support system and a positive environment in which to exercise, learn, play, and relax

with friends. In the recreational center, there will be after-school programs and tutoring

sessions to help children with their academics and give them activities to do. There will also be

a child care service in the recreational center which will help provide a strong beginning for

children by giving them a safe and positive place to be.


An estimated 5.8% of Mariposa County residents suffer from opioid addiction, but addiction to

more readily available methamphetamines and alcohol are much higher. High unemployment

rates, low educational achievement levels, high poverty and domestic abuse rates are just some

of the social factors contributing to these trends. Multiple studies have demonstrated the value

of community recreation in reducing drug use, building confidence in people of all ages, and

improving the mental and physical health of the people in our community. For example by

developing recreational centers and programs and making them broadly available to their local

communities, Iceland was able to decrease the percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had

been drunk in the previous month from 42% in 1998 to 5% in 2016. The percentage who have

ever used cannabis is down from 17% to 7%. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23%

to just 3%. A recreational center would give people something positive and productive to help

them overcome the challenges they face.


Mariposa is an extremely poor rural community whose poverty is not densely concentrated, but

rather spread throughout the county. The Community Factfinder forces a focus on dense areas

of poverty, causing our county to be ranked lower than other applications in previous Statewide

Parks Program grant reviews. When comparing school free and reduced meal program

statistics, however, Mariposa County poverty rates are consistent with the highest award

applicants. Within families of 4 that have a student attending Mariposa Elementary School,

65.5% make less than $32,630 annually, qualifying them for free school meals, and 76.2% make

less than $46,435 annually, qualifying them for reduced price meals. Most importantly, these

numbers demonstrate the poverty with which our community struggles. Because of this

poverty, our school’s extracurricular activities are extremely underfunded, and there are few

recreational options for activities for children and teenagers. Most families also cannot afford

to travel at least an hour one-way to more urban areas where a wider variety of recreational

activities are offered.


Distance from large cities, and distance between communities within Mariposa County,

presents one of our biggest challenges. Urban areas offering recreational activities are at least

an hour away, which especially affects the youth in Mariposa who cannot transport themselves.

Parents who work cannot drive their children to neighboring cities everyday, resulting in

children’s passion for activities such as dance, gymnastics, and aerial silks being stifled. Children

in Mariposa are not given the same opportunities as children in larger cities simply because of

their distance from activities. In addition to distance from cities with recreational options, the

county itself is extremely spread out. A recreational facility in the heart of the county, and to

which all high school students are bussed during the school year, would provide a central space

for the community to come together. This is a unique challenge with which our community

specifically struggles, because we are a rural county with one central town area, containing the

high school, grocery stores, restaurants, but few options for activities that would improve the

health and morale of residents of the community