Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Ventura’s Westside community has long been known for its diverse population, spanning a large demographic from young people and families to an aging population, plus a range of ethnicities, incomes and industries. It contains some of the city’s oldest historical landmarks as well as some of the best public artwork. It really is a special place. Except for one thing — it has lacked outdoor recreational space. While it has one small park with a gym and a playground, the park isn’t centralized or easily accessible to all residents. This week, however, through perseverance and an undeniable need for public space, the vision known as Kellogg Park is now headed to fruition.
Kellogg Park has been the recipient of various grants and donations, getting it closer to the $4.3 million goal since a local grassroots effort to create it started in 2011. It began with the formation of the Ventura Avenue United Leadership Team, which began to advocate for public space. In 2012, the city approved the purchase of the 2.4-acre, $1.1 million property through various funding streams. But the funding to develop the park would be the next major hurdle. This week, though, the National Park Service stepped in and donated $1.5 million, which has boosted the funding approximately $3.4 million, allowing city officials to move forward with construction by the end of the year. The interesting aspect of this particular donation is the National Park Service’s recognition of the fundamental importance of urban parks despite its focus on preserving wildlife areas that cater to a larger national audience. For Ventura’s Westside and other cities in similar positions, this donation highlights the value of public outdoor space for all as well as addressing the fact that not everyone can take advantage of national parks, which are often located far from urban areas.
But the collaboration to make Kellogg Park a reality is especially noteworthy, given that it seems rather rare these days for a community and elected officials to come together for the common good and make such an impact. For the federal government to recognize the importance of what is seemingly on such a small scale of national significance is inspirational. And if one small community might accomplish great things, then it sets a reachable standard for what others can also accomplish. Kellogg Park will surely bring an important aspect of life and engagement to the community.
“We are extremely pleased that this grant brings us that much closer to our goal of raising $4.3 million to complete the Kellogg Park build. This is another example of the City working together with our partners to secure grant funding and provide space where families and children can play, relax and enjoy nature,” — Ventura Mayor Erik Nasarenko
“Westside Ventura residents have organized for years for more access to open green space and outdoor recreation in their neighborhood to tackle the health disparities impacting this disadvantaged community. This major support from the National Park Service is bringing the community’s vision to life.” — Maricela Morales, executive director of CAUSE