The city should be planning to spend $32,000,000 over the next 4 years to build or expand the recreational facilities at 4 parks. Each of these parks should have a least a large community pool that would meet competition standards, a splash pool, 4 ball fields, basketball courts, a soccer area, skate park, dog and picnic areas. An RFQ, request for quote, should go out at a fixed price, with the winner selected based upon the design and additional amenities. I propose the funding comes from the General Fund ($5,000,000) and Measure O ($3,000,000) to be appropriated annually for the next 4 years. I foresee that the ball fields, basketball courts, soccer fields and picnic areas could be completed in the first 18 months. The water features and other amenities would take longer to complete. The work at the parks should take place concurrently at each park, not a park by park basis.
Each park selected would need to be least 15 acres. Camino Del Sol and College Park could be two of the sites. More sites could be added if there are pre existing amenities at the selected sites, i.e. College Park already has basketball courts, soccer fields and picnic areas.
By having similar amenities at several parks, one park would not be overwhelmed because that is the only park with that amenity, such as a water feature or skate park.
Alternatively, neighborhoods, through their neighbor councils could seek specific amenities. While community pools that meet competition standards would only be built in a limited number of parks, splash pools and smaller water features could be built in many parks. Some neighborhoods may not want bathrooms at their parks in fear of attracting transients, others may want bathrooms for their children to use. Lighting that does not spill into resident’s home may be desired as well as security cameras. Some neighborhoods may not want lighting, concerned that night time activity would increase the noise levels. Some neighborhoods may just want open parks. Some neighborhoods may be concerned that recreational amenities in neighborhood parks would draw people from outside the city, limiting the local residents access to the local parks.
The requested $32,000,000 would be separate from the annual budget allocations for parks and recreation. A long term Master Park Plan needs to spell out an annual minimum budget of capital improvements for each park with consideration for the estimated number of residents that would use the parks within their neighborhoods. The annual budget needs to be specific regarding the funding that is necessary to maintain the parks, a budget that is separate from financial needs for recreational programs. The annual budget for recreational programs also needs to be specifically spelled out. Bear in mind, that the biggest expense for the recreational programs is payroll. Excluding administrative staff, recreational employees are either young adults in their first job, or retirees. The public needs to be aware that if the park and recreational budgets increase, the budget for public safety will likely decrease. The Public Safety Budget consumes over ½, some say closer to 2/3 of the General Fund budget. The money has to come from somewhere.
Oxnard could become a community where all could live, work and play.