The median income for families in Lompoc is $60,000. So, what do many families do to find wholesome entertainment for their kids?

Well, they go to one of the many parks in our city.

Park maintenance funding is the second most important priority for the City Council; public safety is first and consumes a very large portion of the available General Fund dollars.

The city manager and his team have been working hard to squeeze as many park improvement projects as possible from the limited funds they have; these are augmented by state and federal grants and in many cases by volunteer efforts.

Ryon Park serves multiple purposes. It is the festival venue for the city and hosts several large events each year.  Pre- and post- event maintenance work takes hundreds of staff hours each year. The other purpose is for family recreation and team sports.

Ryon Park is in a low-income area, so scores of families use the park each week; seasonal organized sports teams use the ball fields and donate many hours to help prepare their fields for use each week. There are several big projects either underway or soon to be started.

One is the Pickle Ball and Tennis Courts; retrofit of tennis court lighting to LED was completed. Post tension concrete pad was poured this week for new pickleball courts.  Fencing for the pickleball courts has begun.

Installation and pouring new concrete walkways is in progress in the Playground and Fitness Areas. New playground equipment is being assembled and placed.

River Park is home to overnight and long stay RV camping; many new campsites with hook-ups have been completed, and design is in progress for the next 13 campsites. Contracts could be awarded as soon as this month.

All revenues from this campground are dedicated to park maintenance budgets. The improvements being made to the campground will enhance revenue generation, which will add more resources to the Parks Division going forward. This will help reduce the Division’s reliance on General Fund resources down the line leaving more for other critical general fund programs.

JM Park is another team sport venue that also hosts many picnic areas.  Restroom/Concession Stands need major renovation, new specifications and use was approved on July 17 by County Public Health.  The joint use building is in production which is an eight-to-10-month process.

Centennial Park in the heart of the city received substantial landscape improvements that were recently completed and is ready for public use.

College Park is home to a skateboard park, the aquatic center and enclosed YMCA racquetball/handball courts. This park is scheduled for a major renovation using a $3,648,248 Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program grant with planned completion by September 2024.

The existing skateboard feature will be removed and replaced; an eight-foot wind wall added with mural art on the west side of the skate park; shade structures and concrete benches replaced; new playground equipment with rubber surfacing installed- two half basketball courts built; overhead shade structures with picnic tables added; and a new gaming area with two gameboard tables, two corn hole sets, two table tennis tables, concrete benches, trash receptacles, drinking fountain, prefabricated restroom building, steel fencing, lighting and landscaping.

These are a few examples of what has either been completed or is actively planned for the Lompoc Park system.  You’ll note that the city staff has been very aggressive at submitting successful grants requests for specific projects.

In the last several months I have also noticed a marked improvement in many of the so-called neighborhood parks. These small venues with limited amenities are scattered in various neighborhoods and represent “open space.”

Of course, it can’t be overlooked that other major improvements are needed too. For example, Ken Adam Park would make a perfect venue for a regional sports venue to host team tournaments. This would attract people from all over the region to come to town for events, and in the process spend some money on our local businesses or overnight in our hotels.

Riverbend Park is a major soccer venue during the season; it’s also home to the Babe Ruth teen baseball league. It could use an overhaul, too.

But those two projects would consume revenue that simply isn’t available.

To sum up, I must tip my hat to those on the city staff who took the time to prepare and submit grant requests and come up with projects that will last for decades. And to those in the community who spend hours helping prep team sport fields for play.

Team Lompoc is a winner in my book.

College Park renovations: