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Hill Recreation Area Master Planning

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Proposed Master Plan for the Hill Recreation Area/Margaret Todd Senior Center Site

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Current Status: Construction underway

Status Update: 5/18/20

The Marin Public Health Order for April 29, 2020 allowed a limited number of additional Essential Businesses and certain lower risk Outdoor Businesses to resume operating. In reference to section 16. f. v. of this order the City of Novato resumed construction activities on the Hill Recreational Area “Central Hub” project. 

This week the construction continues with:

  • Final grading of Bocce Ball courts
  • Fencing installation
  • Completion of Irrigation underground system and installation of new controller
  • Drain rock placement for the large synthetic turf field
  • Completion of large gravel “soccer field” parking lot
Next week the Landscape contractor will start planting shrubs (2,460) and trees (160).

Project Overview

Hill Recreation Area Site Planning (CIP 01-003, 14-009 & 16-012)


The Hill Master Plan project includes completing a site study, developing conceptual design plans (Master Plan) and recommendation for phased construction of improvements at the Hill Recreation Area. Currently Phase 1 improvements include additional parking to support the 12-acre site--including Margaret Todd Senior Center, bocce ball courts and potentially one or more synthetic turf sports fields.


The Hill Recreation Area is located at 1560 Hill Road, and sits just east of the Margaret Todd Senior Center.

View project on an interactive map >>


The proposed improvements will reduce ongoing maintenance costs associated with the existing natural turf, improve playability of the fields, beautify the park and better meet the youth athletic field and older adult needs in Novato. Expanded and renovated parking lots are recommended in order to meet the needs of the entire site, which includes the Hill Gymnasium, Margaret Todd Senior Center and Hill Recreation Area fields.


The next step in the process is to complete an environmental analysis. The Master Plan should be completed in late 2017/early 2018. The first phase of improvements will likely take place in 2018.


To date, three items have been funded; $485,000 is allocated for the development of the Master Plan, $505,000 for bocce ball and parking, and $1.14 million for one synthetic turf field. Costs for the development of the entire master plan will be estimated as part of the Master Plan work, and will likely be in excess of $6 million.

Additional Info

Background Information:

Tournament Bocce Ball Facility and Proposed Installation of Synthetic Turf Field
A Brief Look at the City of Novato's Fiscal Sustainability Plan

In 2009, during the Great Recession, the City of Novato began community discussions regarding the long-term fiscal and organizational sustainability of its organization. Historically, the City has struggled with a chronic structural deficit, and during the recession, it had to make some difficult decisions to reduce staffing and service levels. In 2010, the City developed a fiscal sustainability plan to address the organization's long-term fiscal health.

Of the six recommendations in the plan, one was  to make one-time investments that resulted in ongoing savings to, or revenue generation for, the City.

Two revenue-generating projects that are being considered include the proposed installation of a tournament bocce ball facility and improvements at the Margaret Todd Senior Center and the installation of a synthetic turf field. Both recommendations would add a new community asset while simultaneously generating revenue for the City. For instance, the bocce ball facility would cost approximately $500,000 to construct, including expenses for parking improvements to accommodate additional usage. Revenue generated by the facility is estimated to be $82,000 annually, and would require annual maintenance of approximately $35,000. This would result in $47,000 of net annual revenue to the City.

The City conducted a turf feasibility analysis to determine the best location for a synthetic turf field in 2016, and the preferred location was determined to be the Hill Recreation Area.

Community Input Overview:

On August 9, 2016, the City hosted its third community design workshop for the Hill Recreation Area Master Plan-- which is also home to the Margaret Todd Senior Center and Hill Gymnasium. More than 70 people attended the meeting where the project consultant showed the preliminary conceptual drawings that resulted from the first round of community design workshops in May 2015. The majority of attendees liked and gave feedback on the conceptual design which includes synthetic turf fields (which would significantly  increase the amount of time available for field use throughout the year), bocce ball courts, a playground, walking path, pickleball courts and increased parking.  

The City has received a lot of community input on needs and desires for park amenities, which has resulted in a project that will improve accessibility, field conditions and expand parking to better meet all of the needs at this 12 -acre City-owned recreation site.

Additionally, the City gathered community input on a preliminary strategy for construction phasing taking into consideration project priorities, available funding and construction practices.

At their March 28, 2017 meeting, the Novato City Council approved the conceptual design for the Hill Recreation Area Master Plan and the commencement of the environmental review process that needs to occur before construction begins. Additionally, Council directed staff to come back to Council with a funding strategy to implement the Master Plan.

On February 28, 2019, the Novato Public Works Department held a community meeting to present a design update for the Hill Recreation Area Central Hub project.  Hill Recreation Design Presentation (2/28/19)

At their meeting on June, 25, 2019, the City Council approved plans and specifications for the Hill Recreation Center, CIP 01-005, and authorized a bid advertisement.

At their meeting on September 10, 2019, the City Council awarded a construction contract for the Hill Recreation Area "Central Hub" Project (CIP 01-005) in the total amount of $5,497,245.60 to Ghilotti Bros., Inc.; authorized an agreement with FieldTurf Inc. through the California Multiple Award Schedule (CMAS) to purchase and install the sports field and bocce surface at $782,860 and $50,249, respectively; and authorized the City Manager to execute the same.

A Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Hill Recreation Area "Central Hub" Project was on Thursday , October 10, 2019. 

Contact Info

Project Manager
Petr Skala, Associate Engineer
Public Works Department

Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Hill Recreation Area "Central Hub" Project October 10, 2019

Updated on 11/07/2019 8:20 AM

On October 10, Novato staff and City Council gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony to kick-off the first phase of the Hill Recreation Area project.

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