Op Ed: Is there a splash pad to replace the Ortega Park pool?
By Victoria Valente
CALL TO ACTION:
Please attend the Ortega Park Community Meeting on April 24 from 1-3 pm, at Ortega Park. Honor the culturally significant murals and voice your concerns regarding the City’s Master Plan to destroy the murals, the mature trees, the pool, and to build a skate park in a residential area. In attendance will be skate park advocates, aquatics supporters, City Parks & Recreation, and last, but not least, murals advocates. Members of the community will be given two minutes for public comment.
Recently I have become aware that the City plans to renovate Ortega Park, yet they do not intend to fund the replacement of the pool that will be demolished. Instead, they plan to leave this section of the park barren and undeveloped.
I have only recently become aware of this because the City Parks & Recreation Department failed to perform effective community outreach throughout the process. While they did post on their Parks & Recreation page (who regularly checks the City website?), they did send mailers to property ”owners” within a 300-foot radius of Ortega Park, they did advertise on the radio (KIST & KSPE), and they did post ads, they say, in an Eastside newspaper (who reads this paper?), the notices only appeared once, or for a short period of time. So, few people knew about the project, and even fewer participated in the workshops.
Most community members attending the workshops found out about them through word-of-mouth.
Some people, for example, several Goleta skateboarding enthusiasts, have attended every workshop that has been held. Clearly, efforts to reach out to the skateboarding community were flawless. This outreach included two “Ortega Skatepark” workshops next door to Skater’s Point with outreach posters displayed on site. No effort was made to reach out to the aquatics community at Los Baños, let alone providing their own aquatics-oriented workshops.
To fund the renovation of Ortega Park, the City has applied for an $8.5 million grant and will set aside millions to build a skate park, without setting aside a single penny to replace the pool facilities — including the wading pool that was filled with concrete in 2005.
City's Master Plan that includes the new skate park, mature trees removed, and the aquatics facilities that won't be built
With the elimination of the Ortega Park pool, there will only be one public pool in Santa Barbara. The Los Baños pool, however, is maxed out with its existing program options, and pool space is not accessible to the majority of community members.
Are any other community members outraged by the City’s plans?
Would you be further outraged to learn that the City’s plan to replace the demolished pool facilities, involves residents taking responsibility for the fundraising?
Does that sound fair to you? And should the City even be demolishing the existing pool without plans to use grant funding to build a new one?
Would you be even more outraged to learn that professional skateboarders and marketing consultants for a Goleta skateboard company — the founders of the Goleta Skateboarding Movement — were instrumental in ensuring that the City of Santa Barbara build a multi-million skate park rather than use grant funds to replace the pool?
Doesn’t it sound like the voices of outside special interest groups have more influence over our City parks than its residents do? How do you feel about this?
Public pools offer many opportunities for the community: opportunities for youth, for recreation, and for the betterment of public health. A skate park can be built practically anywhere. Choosing to build a skate park, rather than a pool that all community members can enjoy, short changes our residents.
Is your outrage growing? Mine is too.
Many residents don’t know that the City has already admitted that the Ortega Park Master Plan failed to plan for the historic murals and lacked the necessary public outreach. It calls for their complete demolition. They also may not know that on April 24th at 1pm, the City is hosting another murals workshop, this time at Ortega Park to ensure that the necessary outreach is conducted.
Yet today, the City refuses to reconsider the decision it made on the pool facilities — despite the lack of outreach to the aquatics community, despite the well-documented need for more (not less) public pool facilities, and despite the fact that an outside special interest group, with the full support of the Parks & Recreation Department, secured a skate park using the City’s free grant money. The City allowed this to happen, rather than ensuring that the pool facilities were prioritized.
If you are as outraged as I am, and want the City to prioritize the pool facilities in Phase I of the Ortega Park Master Plan, please check out and sign the Change.org petition (below). Additionally, please consider sending the Mayor and City Council an email [email protected] insisting that the Ortega Park Master Plan stipulate that pool facilities be prioritized using the $8.5 million grant, rather than planning for just a pool on paper without any commitment by the City to build it now, rather than years from now, provided that the residents can raise the funds.
For more information on this issue, and to hold the City accountable to the residents of the City, rather than the residents of Goleta (or those with financial, business, or other conflicts of interest), please read and sign:
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