Filling a seat that had been empty for a little over two months, UC Santa Barbara fourth-year political science major Matthew Griffin took the final spot on the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District board during its meeting on July 11, promising to oversee the renovation of a few parks in Isla Vista.
Griffin was the only applicant for the vacant seat left behind by Director Celine Washington, who resigned in May. His term will end in November 2020.
Griffin will be joining Carlos Lopez, Pegeen Soutar, Sarah Bernard and the recently-appointed Whitner Grange on the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD) board, which oversees the care of all parks located in Isla Vista.
Before the board chose him as its newest director, Griffin spoke to his qualifications and motivations for applying to the position.
“My brother came down here [in 2014], and I fell in love with this community while visiting him. I decided [during] my freshman year to get involved and see if I can help out as much as I can,” Griffin said in a statement to the board prior to his appointment.
Griffin said he first saw the open seat while running for Associated Students External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA) in the Spring Quarter 2019 elections. At the time, he realized that he didn’t want to get elected as both EVPLA and IVRPD director and not have sufficient time for both positions.
“After losing [the EVPLA] election, I decided that this was another way I could give back, and the board position was still open. I was lucky enough to get it, and I’m happy to be on it,” Griffin said in an interview with the Nexus.
As the newest member of the board, one of Griffin’s first goals is to renovate two of the parks in I.V.: Walter Capps Park and Pardall Gardens.
Griffin said Walter Capps Park, a large tract of dirt and grass located oceanside at the beginning of the 67 block of Del Playa Drive, has recently been discussed as a site for renovation.
“It’s been in the talks recently to put together a plan to build a park there and to have different facilities like work-out stations and shade structures. So I’d like to be a part of the design of that which will be happening hopefully within the next year,” Griffin said.
Griffin also wants to renovate Pardall Gardens, which neighbors Lao Wang on Pardall Road and currently houses a few benches and sparse shrubbery. Griffin wants to “transition the park to become a space utilized by students and community members.”
Griffin is also looking forward to the implementation of the first solar table at the southeast corner of People’s Park. The solar table will house outlets charged by solar panels and was a project initially started in the EVPLA office under Jeike Meijer, who served as EVPLA for the 2018-19 school year.
The foundation has been laid, and the table will hopefully be installed and ready by Fall Quarter 2019, according to Griffin.
To familiarize himself with the IVRPD’s revenue, Griffin said he intends to join the Finance Committee. Soutar and Bernard are the current directors on the committee; Bernard replaced Washington following her resignation.
“[I want] to figure out exactly where the tax revenues come from and how to maintain the balance budget that we’ve had recently for the next few years going forward,” Griffin said.
“I want to be able to learn how to manage and still provide very good resources for our community but still maintain that healthy side of the financials.”
Alongside working on financials within the IVRPD, Griffin also wants to collaborate with the EVPLA office and the Isla Vista Community Services District (I.V. CSD) on future projects.
He hopes to spread awareness about I.V.’s history by creating a timeline of I.V.’s history in the new community center — which is set to have a soft opening in August — in order to create a stronger connection between the long-term residents and students.
Correction [July 31, 12:30 p.m.]: A previous version of this article stated that Matthew Griffin had said “stage structures” instead of “shade structures” in regards to Walter Capps Park. This article has been updated to reflect the correct information.