What’s on the Agenda for Parks and Rec this Summer, including an Urban Tree Plan.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
It’s summer in Isla Vista. The sky is blue, the beach is beautiful, and peace has descended. However, for the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD), there is change in the air. Here are some of the things the IVRPD board is going to address in the next few months.
New Management: First of all, a general manager is going to be hired in the near future. This position is of utmost importance to the IVRPD. The person in charge manages park employees, decides what projects to embark on, and ensures that the open spaces retain their unique flavors and are well maintained. Even though there are areas in which it appears as though nature has been left to its own devices, this is not the case. These areas are mowed, the trees are pruned, and nonnative species posing challenges are removed.
IVRPD employees are technically only responsible for the parks, but they also take care of county open spaces. They even pick up trash that has been thrown on the bluffs. More than once, park representatives have taken and disposed of large items, like televisions, that have been dumped at the end of Camino Majorca. They are the guardians of the area and have a big influence on how I.V. parks and open spaces look and feel.
It’s All About the Money: Another thing in the works is the new budget. Next week, the board plans to discuss a proposed budget. The IVRPD runs on a modest sum, a little more than $1 million a year. Most of the budget is tagged for salaries. The Finance Committee came up with a proposed budget that is going to be placed before the board for discussion.
When the district has to make cuts, the items discussed are not big-ticket items but small expenses like postage stamps and magazine subscriptions. The district makes do with the financial resources available.
Urban Tree Plan Of particular interest to the I.V. community are the trees found in the parks and open spaces. Next week, a committee, including myself, that has been formed to discuss an urban tree plan will meet for the first time.
I.V. trees are controversial. Recently, the board voted to remove a few eucalyptus trees located in the Camino Corto Open Space that were posing a possible threat to property and people. Eucalyptus branches can and do break off and fall. They have recently fallen on a park district vehicle. If someone were walking under a limb at the wrong time, this could be a problem.
Several community members have spoken at board meetings expressing concern that the board was going to remove all the eucalyptus trees. An urban tree plan will offer the public a chance to give input and a way for board representatives to work with the community to design a tree plan for the parks that will take into account the interests of I.V. residents.
While summer is a time for fun and relaxation, it is also a season of change in I.V. Every step made to improve the quality of Isla Vista’s parks and open spaces is a move toward making the area a better place to live. When people see the area as a paradise rather than a dumping ground, they will appreciate its value. But changes only come one step, and one tree planting, at a time.
Longtime Independent columnist Cathy Neushul now sits on the board of the Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District.