The Oak Park Recreation and Park Planning Committee decided with a 4-1 vote against being dissolved as per a recommendation by the Rancho Simi Recreation & Park District. The Oak Park committee represents the interests of the entire community when it comes to decisions regarding the parks and recreation facilities on this side of the Simi Hills.
Created in 1976, the Oak Park committee meets on a quarterly basis and has the responsibility to oversee the park facilities and various park related programs & activities within the community. But the district manager for the Rancho Simi Recreation & Park District, Larry Peterson, said that the committee is really an unnecessary use of limited resources since all of the parks have been completed and there’s very little to be done in terms of future planning & development.
In response to his recommendation, Committee Chair Derek Ross said the group is still required to serve the interests of the Oak Park community. Mr. Ross is strongly opposed to the group being dissolved and believes that there could be other ways to save costs by restructuring administrative procedures and reduced staffing.
I personally believe that the Oak Park Recreation and Park Planning Committee is still vital because it is important for each community to have a direct say in what goes on locally – especially with the parks and recreation programs – and that decisions for our local parks should not come from over the hill in Simi Valley, rather they should be made by the members of the community that those parks directly serve.
Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks said it best when she stated that it would be a ‘loss to democracy and Oak Park representation to eliminate their official participation’. Ms. Parks stated this in a letter addressed directly to district manager Peterson in defense of the Oak Park Committee. Thank you Linda Parks!
Other committee members stated their opinions at the meeting. Member Mike Green is concerned that with Simi Valley residents making up the majority it was unlikely we could have a local member on the Simi Valley Parks & Rec board in the future. And although your opinion as an Oak Park resident can always be voiced online through their website it would hardly hold as much weight as coming from the current 7 member Oak Park Committee.
In the end only a single Committee member sided with Mr. Peterson, upon which he agreed to postpone his bid to dissolve the committee and instead look for other cost saving measures. I’m sure this is not the end of this story… Stay tuned.