City parks makeover continues

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

City parks makeover continuesAfter years stuck in the queue for funding and development, local parks are finally getting a long-anticipated upgrade.

Years ago, prior city councils set aside tax allocation bond money to improve local parks. In addition to the projects getting reprioritized behind other infrastructure projects, a problem was discovered in the bidding process for planned developments at Upjohn and Pearson parks — which would have sent them back to the drawing board.

“Before we put the projects back out to bid, I asked if we could take another look at it,” said Lindsey Stephens, who was elected to the council last fall.

“That’s when I found the purchasing-contract option. Through that we were able to save the city a lot of money, and put some of it toward the purchase of additional equipment.”

She also solicited the Ridgecrest Regional Hospital leadership, asking them to partner with the city to invest in fitness stations as a way to improve overall wellness in the city.

“I think they donated about $13,000 for that part of the project.” The parks will also see new playground equipment and shade coverings.

Although she now spends her time as a fulltime mother and wife, her education and professional background include bachelor and master’s degrees in architectural studies and city planning. Since taking oath, she has been proactive in finding ways to embellish recreational opportunities within the city.

Over the summer, she helped establish an indoor playground for young children at the Kerr McGee Center.

As part of the Freedom Park Enhancement Project, the city will host its first-ever family movie night tomorrow. (See related story, this page).

“That really started when I heard the city was going to close Pinney Pool,” said Stephens.

“There was no plan on how to proceed, and I felt there was a need in the community for some kind of water element. A splash pad was what we could afford, and I was able to see when I traveled across the country to see how they had become important community-gathering places.

“I thought it would be perfect for Freedom Park, which is already kind of the heart of our city.”

With the exception of the Remembrance Field, “Freedom Park is very underutilized throughout the year.”

In addition to the splash pad, coming soon, and outdoor movie nights, held when weather permits, Stephens said the park is the perfect backdrop for holiday-themed events.

“This is really great for local families,” said Stephens. “I’m really excited for next month, when the Youth Advisory Committee will host a Trunk-or-Treat and Fall Festival.

“I think people would really enjoy a Christmas event as well.” The city already collaborates with local service clubs for the annual Tree Lighting, but Stephens said she would like to see more elaborate decorating and perhaps music to augment the tradition.

The city will host ribbon-cutting ceremonies for Upjohn Park on Saturday, Oct. 7, at 11 a.m. A Pearson Park ceremony will be held Oct. 14. The public is invited to attend both events.

Pictured: Crewmembers from?Central Coast Playgrounds install new playground equipment at Upjohn Park. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2017-09-22