– Pedro Hernandez
For many people, spending more time indoors to stay safe from the coronavirus and wildfire smoke has led to more appreciation for green spaces and the outdoors. For years, Ivanheo residents have shown interest in bringing more green space to the community however current efforts face new challenges.
The economic recession that the State of California has encountered due to the coronavirus has created a strain on available funding resources for park projects. At last week’s Ivanhoe Community Council meeting Blanca Escobedo, policy advocate with Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, remarked that she was not sure that the state’s Urban Greening Project will have the same level of funding next year.
While the Urban Greening Program was the initial funding program that was considered, an application could not be completed prior to the program deadline.
Two major issues must be addressed before a park is developed in the community. First, a proper site must be located. The final location of the park will be influenced by where Tulare County can locate land that can be purchased.
Secondly, maintenance of the park must be adequately funded to ensure the park remains useful to the community. Often, maintenance is not eligible for state park programs.
According to advocates there are three methods to fund a park in Ivanhoe. The first is funding through state grants which has supported many parks. For example, there is a program funded by Proposition 68 with a deadline in December that can fund park projects. Supervisor Eddie Valero confirmed that Tulare County will submit an application.
Valero commented, “with our proposition 68 we only apply for one community at a time per year. Last year they applied for Goshen, this round I believe they are applying for Earlimart to go after a grant. Ivanhoe would need to be part of an application with another entity like another nonprofit organization. I know the General Services Agency does not like to do multiple grants for a pot of funds.”
Another option to fund a park in Ivanhoe includes local funding from Tulare County’s General Fund. This is an option that is technically available however County representatives have shown hesitancy utilizing these funds even before the economic burden the coronavirus have brought to the area.
Finally, there is the option of creating a community services district which would start a local tax to fund the park. Supervisor Valero remarked, “I know there are opportunities for unincorporated communities can form local Community Service Districts like Ivanhoe has for sewer and water. But this can also be for recreation.” In Ivanhoe’s case, the Ivanhoe Public Utility District is a similar type of arrangement.
As a result, the organization Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability will be conducting a community survey to identify community opinions on the preferred method to fund a new park in Ivanhoe. Escobedo says, “With this survey we hope to collect the method to how Ivanhoe residents would want to establish a park. We hope to receive more input on the conceptual development of the park from the beginning to ensure the community voice is heard”.
These surveys will begin to be conducted via online and paper versions that will be shared at the next Ivanhoe Community Council Meeting on Tuesday October 27th at 6pm on Facebook Live.
For more information our readers can contact Blanca at [email protected] .