Despite three resignations and what one former member said was a $30,000 setback, this summer the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District focused on creating a community center as well as ways to reduce gang violence.
Plans for the community center in Estero Park continue, and IVRPD hopes to break ground in fall 2007. As for gang violence, the board is considering placing a curfew on Children’s Park, which according to the I.V. Foot Patrol has had a recent upswing in gang-related crime.
Concerning the resignations, Bryan Brown and recent UCSB graduates Logan Green and Eric Cummings left IVRPD for differing reasons.
While Brown resigned because he is moving out of the area, former board member Cummings said he and Green resigned in frustration over actions taken by IVRPD concerning plans for the community center.
The board originally hired consultants from Culver City for about $30,000 to design the community center as well as various other facilities in Estero Park. The designers suggested moving the 32 plots of community gardens in the park across the street in order to fit a soccer field in the plans. However, several community members rejected relocating the gardens.
The IVRPD asked the consultants to redesign the plan, but they refused. He said the IVRPD was forced to fire them and find new designers.
“I think the IVRPD burned a lot of bridges and wasted a lot of money – about $30,000 of Santa Barbara’s taxpayers money,” Cummings said.
Cummings said he and Green both felt frustrated with IVRPD’s actions, which they voted against, and he said he did not want to work with the board anymore. He said the board recently appointed a new member, long-term I.V. resident Kellie Ann Prichard, who he said will not work for changes.
“I just saw the same battles coming up and I didn’t want to be a part of it,” Cummings said. “[Under the new board] the money for Estero Park will probably be wasted again.”
In addition to Prichard, another long-term I.V. resident – Arthur Kennedy – will soon join the board, said IVRPD General Manager Dale Sumersille.
IVRPD Board Director Kelly Burns said the board is also looking for a new director to serve up to a four-year term. Applications will be available Oct. 3.
Meanwhile, IVFP Lt. Sol Linver said over the summer officers saw an increase in gang activity in I.V. Linver said teenage gang members have been loitering in Children’s Park, on the 6600 block of Picasso Road. In May, several unidentified attackers stabbed a juvenile in the park.
“Over the past six months and over the summer, we’ve been having issues with Children’s Park,” Linver said. “There are two gangs that claim it and for the last six months there has been graffiti damage, drug issues and stabbing in the park.”
Linver said he spoke with the IVRPD about implementing a county ordinance that sets a curfew at Children’s Park in order to eliminate the gang problem. Anyone caught loitering in the park after hours could be fined or arrested.
Linver said if the board approves the ordinance, the park would be open from 8 a.m. to sunset.
“We don’ t have an hours ordinance in that park [currently] so we saw that as a possible tool to get them to move out of the park,” Linver said. “The design is to take the parks back.”
Burns said IVRPD will consider approving the ordinance, and she said board members think the curfew could help decrease the violence in the park.
“We want people to be safe and we want the public to feel safe in their own community,” Burns said.
Sumersille said IVRPD plans to attach a special clause to give extended hours for planned events scheduled in Children’s Park.
“We may even put in a sunset clause so we can reexamine it in the future and decide if we should take the ordinance off or extend it further,” Sumersille said.
In other news, Sumersille said two programs IVRPD will be heavily encouraging this new school year are the Adopt-A-Block program and the Adopt-A-Box program. The Adopt-A-Box program will assign artists to paint murals on utility boxes and cable boxes to prevent graffiti tagging, and Adopt-A-Block will focus on cleaning up trash in I.V.
“We want to beautify the city,” Sumersille said.