Commissioner Raises Parks Concerns, Revitalization
By Dianne Anderson
Like many volunteer commissioners in the city of San Bernardino, Charle’ Jacobs is always looking out for new projects, and what might be around the corner to help her parks in the Sixth Ward.
As Parks and Recreation commissioner, she has often asked for help to deal with potentially dangerous conditions at Nicholson Park that she said are not being addressed.
Some money is coming down, but it’s unclear when that will happen, or when Nicholson Park will be repaired, she said.
“The whole doggone park, I don’t understand how you can let something go for nine years without any money to take care of it,” said Jacobs, also president of Terrace West Neighborhood Association.
To date, the water remains shut off. The concrete bench is broken, which could be dangerous for kids or adults. The chain to secure the gate has been cut and the park is not locked at night, inviting blight or crime.
“The old concrete benches are cracked, the rebars are showing,” she said. “Adults are in that area, it’s a liability with all of those holes and that gazebo area is in bad shape.”
Part of the problem could be handled with small policy changes, she said, like regular status updates on the Community Development Major Projects List. She said movement on projects should be available before and not after projects are approved without the commissioner’s input.
Lately, she is excited to be going through the Neighborhood Association Council Leadership Academy, patterned after the city of Long Beach model. For the Sixth Ward, her project interest is anti-litter. She expects to meet with the City Manager around that issue soon. Once approved, she hopes to get that project started.
But she said it’s hard to function in their capacity as commissioners without more knowledge of city projects. Everyone is looking forward to proceeds to help with the park from a Seccombe Lake grant, and she has been waiting on word about $150,000 from the Lytle Creek burned bridge insurance disbursement.
At one time, the Parks and Rec Department handled maintenance, which is now under the purview of public works. To date, the commissioners have not received the projected budget or projects for the year ahead.
Occasionally, they do hear about street repairs.
“At City Council meetings, they say, ‘we’re going to do some street repairs and cut some trees.’ Well, where at? What ward?” she asks.
Some routine maintenance is addressed at Nicholson Park, but it’s not exactly put toward priority issues.
“You trim the trees but the grass is still brown and the gophers are jumping up and down. We can’t plant in the garden,” she said.
Regarding the proliferating squirrels and gophers, she said the commissioners are now reviewing landscaper contracts, and it appears that they not fulfilling their scope of work to eliminate the critters. It’s creating big holes all through the parks.
Kristen Jensen, director of Public Works with the City of San Bernardino, said there is a project planned for Nicholson Park, but before the Nicholson Park Miracle League Ballfield can be completed, the design is expected to take four to six months.
Timing for completion of construction is dependent on the availability and source of funding for the project, and construction is not currently funded pending a decision on CDBG requests. She said she can not estimate a completion date.
She said the cost of the design alone is $150,000.
“We have not awarded a design contract as of yet. We are in the process of preparing the necessary documents to administer a request for proposals for project design,” Jensen said.
The $1 million for Nicholson Park is coming from CDBG, but that funding for Nicholson is only contingent on city council approval.
She said other 2020-21 project funding requests that are being considered are currently being developed. When completed, that information would be provided through the Housing Division.
Sixth Ward Councilwoman Bessine Richard said that in addition to the $150,000, the council is requesting $1 million in 2020-21 CDBG funds to revitalize and improve the park.
She said there are a lot of great things coming to Nicholson Park.
“We’re looking at a broader picture. Bringing a Miracle League Ballfield to Nicholson park will be great for the city as a whole,” she said. “We will know more about that next month.”