By Doug Nickles
When I first visited the Conejo Valley, I was enthralled with the idea that a city could be readily identified and surrounded by open space. The 1970’s was a transitional decade for me. I left my home in the Santa Clara Valley for college, met my wife, who was from Thousand Oaks, and where we ultimately made our home in 1984 (she moved here with her family in 1963). Having spent my formative years watching the greater San Jose region merge into a metropolis, including the birth of the Silicon Valley, I only knew that I had crossed into another city, by seeing the “city limit” signs curbside.
As we raised our family in Thousand Oaks, I quickly became aware of the many recreational opportunities that were available for all ages. We visited the parks, hiked the trails, participated in recreational programs, and attended outdoor concerts and youth theater performances. I learned that the provider and caretaker of the programs and facilities was the Conejo Recreation and Park District, a special district formed in 1963, as a self-governed agency (separate from the City of Thousand Oaks, which was formed a year later in 1964). This was a new concept for me, as I had always thought recreation and parks was part of city government.
Over the past 35 years, our family has witnessed the vast expansion of District facilities including construction of the Fiore Teen Center, Goebel Adult Center, Conejo Creek North District-wide park, parks and facilities in the Dos Vientos and Rancho Conejo communities, the swimming pool at California Lutheran University, many neighborhood parks throughout the Conejo Valley and most recently, the Sapwi Trails Community Park. Not only have the facilities expanded, but so has the variety of recreational program opportunities. In addition, the District has expanded its partnerships with many agencies, non-profits and other organizations to meet the needs of the community.
In November, 2018, I was elected by the community to serve on the Conejo Recreation and Park District’s Board of Directors; I consider this a real privilege. As I work with my colleagues on the Board and the senior District staff, we constantly strive to seek ways to better serve the community. We welcome your feedback and encourage you to share any concerns, as well as ideas you may have for future consideration.
In recent capital improvement discussions with staff, it has become apparent we need to plan for refurbishment of aging facilities. Did you know that the Conejo Community Center was built with the help of volunteers? While this facility has served us well, it is showing its age and is in desperate need of attention. Its foundation is compromised and functionality is limited. As one of the District’s oldest and most popular facilities, we need to consider how best to address the refurbishment needs. The District recently held public meetings to solicit input; there will be other opportunities for input as well, in the future.
(Link to the project website: https://www.crpd.org/planning/conejo-community-center-park-assessment-project/ )
As we try to anticipate our community’s future needs for facilities and programs, the latest trends and forecasts may be helpful, but your active engagement in the planning process is crucial. Please get involved. Attend meetings. Write letters or emails. If you would prefer, contact me and we can arrange a mutually agreeable time to meet. Meanwhile, I’ll be looking for you on the trails!
Doug Nickles is a resident of Thousand Oaks and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Conejo Recreation and Park District.