For the previous six years, I’ve been a member of the Palo Alto Parks and Recreation Fee. It has been a really rewarding expertise for me, and I need to encourage others to think about becoming a member of it, or any of town’s different commissions this fall. The town presently is recruiting new board members and commissioners by means of Oct. 19.
My spouse, Jane, was proper when she prompt that serving on the fee may assist me bridge the hole into retirement, though many members are youthful and never retired. Being a commissioner has allowed me to serve the neighborhood with out having to run for workplace and get elected; members are appointed by the Metropolis Council. It additionally has allowed me to be a part of adjustments that I consider could be good for the longer term, as an alternative of sitting round feeling helpless. Additionally, it has given me an inside observe into how our metropolis and regional governments work, in addition to an amazing appreciation for these devoted metropolis staffers that we depend on day by day.
At each assembly, I noticed the worth of one thing I realized about way back — the three Ps of success: persistence, persistence, and above all, politeness. I’m very happy with the way in which the Parks and Rec commissioners, metropolis employees and metropolis council members have labored so nicely as a crew all these years. They get issues achieved with the minimal of politics, forms and infighting that I’ve examine elsewhere. Endurance, persistence and politeness are so necessary towards assembly our objectives.
Yet another “P” is ardour. That is neither one thing I got here into the Fee with, nor was it one thing I felt each week. I did not convey particular data or coaching with me, apart from my energetic involvement as a Palo Alto mum or dad of three, having fun with youth sports activities, faculty actions, parks and open areas. Ardour for among the matters that got here up actually helped me to place within the time and do the very best job I may, regardless of the pull of labor, being a husband, parenting, grandparenting and attending to my aged mum or dad. I particularly felt obsessed with open area points and Cubberley Area.
There’s something to be obsessed with for everybody on this various neighborhood. The commissioners signify all walks of life: soccer mothers and dads, teachers, techies, retirees, younger folks, tennis gamers, pickleball gamers, joggers, coaches, lap swimmers, environmentalists, canine homeowners, neighborhood champions, condo dwellers, fundraisers and staff of Palo Alto companies. In serious about all of the individuals who use our parks and open areas (we name them stakeholders), it isn’t tough for commissioners to be obsessed with various things and convey that keenness and experience to bear on the remainder of us.
I’m happy with the combination of points and successes which have highlighted our agendas this previous six years. In some ways, they’ve been a mirror of the challenges dealing with the complete metropolis, not the least of which is a rise in inhabitants (4,000 extra residents previously 10 years, as reported on this paper). Parks and open areas are affected by every thing that goes on on this metropolis, and conversely, they’re at all times close to the highest of the checklist of issues residents love about our metropolis.
The fee’s three largest accomplishment of all since I’ve served, are the brand new 25-year Parks and Open Space Master Plan accredited in 2017, the extremely difficult opening of Foothills Nature Protect to all, and the challenges of coping with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth packages, sports activities, playgrounds and park upkeep. The grasp plan influenced every thing we did since 2017, together with the creation of latest parkland and the revamping of a number of of our city parks yearly (this 12 months is Boulware and Rinconada parks).
We additionally stood on the shoulders of these giants earlier than us and accomplished the favored Magical Bridge Playground, the brand new Mitchell Park Group Middle, a plan for the longer term Cubberley Group Middle, the enlargement of the purple pipe recycled water system for park irrigation, and the renovation of the Baylands Boardwalk.
The fee has seen youth packages and year-round camps and sports activities leagues appeal to file numbers of youngsters, and the profitable outsourcing of Rinconada Aquatics program. There’s additionally the brand new regionally acknowledged pickleball middle at Mitchell Park, the brand new Junior Museum and Zoo, the U.S. Freeway 101 bike bridge, the renovated El Camino Park and Cubberley discipline, the rebuilt Emily Renzel Pond, and the brand new Baylands Golf Hyperlinks (previously Palo Alto Golf Course), which was renovated as a part of the completion of the massive San Francisquito flood management mission to battle local weather change and sea degree rise. Final however not least, we achieved the extremely difficult opening of Foothills Nature Protect to all, and tackled the challenges of coping with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth packages, sports activities, playgrounds and park upkeep.
All of those concerned fostering neighborhood enter, coping with extreme finances constraints, figuring out authorized issues, reconciling conflicts between varied park customers and neighbors, figuring out protected bike and pedestrian routes to colleges and parks, addressing mandates from faculty, metropolis, county, regional and state authorities companies. We additionally addressed rising tides and local weather change and the affect of Stanford College’s progress.
There’s something right here for everybody to get enthusiastic about, and I encourage everybody, younger and previous, to use and be part of this microcosm of our democratic course of at cityofpaloalto.org.
As they are saying, democracy will not be a spectator sport. Turn into concerned.
David Moss is a longtime Palo Alto resident who serves on the Palo Alto Parks and Recreation Fee. He might be reached at [email protected].