Concert in the Park – I had the opportunity to welcome concert-goers back to Conejo Community Park for the district’s annual Concert in the Park series on Memorial Day, and again on Independence Day. The spirited crowds appeared excited to return to the park, after a one-year hiatus. The series will conclude on Labor Day, so plan your weekend accordingly.
Senior of the Year – Each year, the City of Thousand Oaks Council on Aging recognizes a Senior of the Year. In a special ceremony on June 18, Roger Bentzer was acknowledged, along with other highly qualified nominees. As the CRPD chair, I was able to represent the district at this ceremony, offer comments of appreciation not only for Roger but for the many volunteers in our community, and hand out certificates to the nominees and the winner. What a special time.
Gratitude Circle – Though not an annual event, the District regularly acknowledges those in the community who have contributed significantly to recreation, parks and open space resources. Those recognized must be approved by the board of directors. On June 21, the district recognized retired employees Jim Gilmore, Karen Lindsey and Steve Wiley at a special ceremony at Conejo Creek North Park. Their names have been added to the Gratitude Circle monument at the park. I was honored to emcee the ceremony and share some comments.
Badge of Bravery – On July 6, a very special ceremony was held at the Healing Garden in Conejo Creek North Park to honor Sgt. Ron Helus. At the invitation of Congresswoman Julia Brownley, I was asked to represent the CRPD board of directors to share the symbolism and significance of the Healing Garden. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Congresswoman Brownley awarded the Congressional Badge of Bravery posthumously to Sgt. Helus’s family.
National Park and Recreation Month – July is designated National Park and Recreation month, and so the City of Thousand Oaks presented the CRPD with a special recognition during the City Council meeting on July 6. All members of the board of directors were present, along with general manager, Jim Friedl, to receive this acknowledgement. Speaking on behalf of the board, I was able to express our appreciation for the recognition, and for our many years of productive partnership with the City, particularly in regard to its funding support for many of the community’s major recreational facilities.
State funding support – Working with Senator Henry Stern, Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin arranged to allocate $3.3 million for CRPD in the 2021/2022 state budget, to help offset revenue losses and increased expenses over the last 18 months. On July 14, Assemblymember Irwin held a press conference at Conejo Creek North Park to announce the approved funding. Along with general manager, Jim Friedl, I spoke and received a “check” on behalf of the CRPD board.
It has been a busy and rewarding summer for CRPD. While programming and facility use has been gradually catching up to speed, the enthusiasm of the staff and community has never skipped a beat.
Serving on the board has reminded me time and again just how much our community relies on parks and recreational programs for mental and physical well-being. CRPD is very important to our community, and so are our partnerships with other agencies and organizations.
Doug Nickles is a Director/Board Member for the Conejo Recreation and Park District, the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency and the California Association of Recreation and Park Districts. The views expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of the District, Agency or the respective Boards. He can be contacted via email at email@example.com.