The Isla Vista Recreation and Park District held a special meeting early Saturday morning to welcome two new board members – both current UCSB students – and to discuss the rehabilitation of the Anisq’ Oyo’ bridge.

Along with swearing in Liz Buda, a film & media studies major, and Josh Cataldo, an electric engineering major, the board tackled several local issues. The footbridge in question, which has been in a state of disrepair for months, would cost an estimated $162,000 to repair. Carol Belser, the IVRPD General Manager and advocate of the project, conceded that obtaining the necessary funding will be a challenge.

“It’s important to reach out and find funding from where we can to rehabilitate the bridge,” Belser said.

After discussion, the IVRPD eventually postponed discussion on the restoration efforts. Until the topic is brought back to the table for deliberation, the board decided that Belser will work on the project independently.

“We want [the bridge] to be open and safe,” Vice-Chair of the IVRPD Diane Conn said.

Andrew Ballinger, a second-year electrical engineering major, said input from Isla Vista residents is critical on topics such as the bridge. Without the insight or criticism of the public, he said, the IVRPD will be unable to serve the Isla Vista community properly.

“Every I.V. resident, if not every UCSB student, should be involved in our parks,” Ballinger said. “There shouldn’t be any difference between what the IVRPD decides and what I.V. residents would decide. People need to be aware of what the IVRPD is doing to our parks and why.”

However, the IVRPD meetings are rarely attended by the public, in part because of the lack of publicity in regards to meeting times. Although the IVRPD follows the Brown Act – California’s law that all meetings be open so the public can attend and voice their opinions – “special meetings” such as this Saturday’s occur with limited notice and often at obscure times of the week.

While the IVRPD sends notice directly to newspapers and other media if requested, these meetings often go unnoticed by the public. Not a single member of the non-media public attended Saturday’s meeting. This was an important issue in November’s election, when the student candidates for the IVRPD voiced their concern over how well the meetings are publicized.

Conn, however, said the board does publicize meeting times and invites community members to attend.

“Meetings are posted outside [the building] and we have an e-mail or mail list,” Conn said. “The public can also visit our Web site.”

Although the meetings are not well attended by the public, some Isla Vista residents take notice of the posted meeting schedule.

Ballinger said he learns of the IVRPD meetings in this fashion.

“I think that the IVRPD office by Domino’s has all of the upcoming meetings and bulletins posted,” Ballinger said. “If not for that board, I don’t think I would have ever even heard of the IVRPD.”

In addition to an orientation for the two new board members, the board unanimously approved allocating $1,000 to invite the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority to assess the district in hopes of joining their group.