Attend workshop on park priorities tonight

March 13, 2019

NEEDLES — Billions of dollars are up for grabs for creation and improvement of parks in California, thanks to the Parks and Water Bond Act of 2018. The city of Needles’ Rainie Torrance wants to acquire some of those dollars for local parks and is asking the public’s help.

Begin with attending a public workshop at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, in council chambers, 1111 Bailey Ave. at J Street.

Justification for the expense is found in many areas. One example: “The California Center for Public Health Advocacy estimates that inactivity and obesity cost California over $40 billion annually, through increased health care costs and lost productivity due to obesity-related illnesses, and that even modest increases in physical activity would result in significant savings. Investments in infrastructure improvements such as biking and walking trails and pathways, whether in urban or natural areas, are cost-effective ways to promote physical activity.”

That’s from the text of Senate Bill 5, viewable on the California Department of Parks and Recreation website at www.parks.ca.gov. The site also breaks down some of the categories in which funds are expected to be made available, including a statewide park program, per capita program, recreational infrastructure revenue enhancement grant program, regional park program, rural recreation and tourism program and a community access program.

Competition for funding will likely be fierce. “Demand for local parks has exceeded available funding by a factor of 8-to-1, with particularly high demand in urban, disadvantaged communities,” SB 5 states. Torrance is looking for partners in the community who will help Needles gain attention for its needs. “…Nonprofits, health care, large or small businesses that would volunteer or support in any way,” Torrance said. “To apply for this grant the city needs to show we have volunteers and partnerships in the community.”

She stressed that local residents must bring their ideas forward; application isn’t to be a function of city officials but must be community driven.

According to the state parks page applicant eligibility is being established now, with public hearings to be held over this summer and eligible applicants announced this fall.

Local projects are to be selected in the March 13 workshop, then explored in a series, some or all at locations selected, scheduled for March 16 at 10 a.m.; March 18 at noon; March 20 at 9 a.m. and March 23 at noon.