As 2020 finally comes to an end, the pandemic is still with us, unfortunately. Staff continues to abide by the current updates from Kern County Health Department and will adjust facilities, events and programs accordingly. We all look forward to the days of youth sports, concerts in the parks and many more family gatherings. For now, keep your distance from others in the parks and on the pathways, wear masks and wash your hands.
The year’s end also brings a bittersweet goodbye as I retire in late December. After 15 years with the City of Bakersfield, and 45 years in the field of Recreation and Parks, it is time to enjoy the many activities and facilities available to all. It has been an honor to serve the citizens of Bakersfield by providing new parks, well maintained streets and several new programs throughout the community. As the city has grown, the Recreation and Parks Department has strived to keep up with new demands.
A few of the highlights of the past 15 years includes:
• Added 13 more parks throughout the City of Bakersfield
• Opened 9 spray parks (one already existed)
• Received well over 15 million dollars in grants to enhance parks, streetscapes and playing fields
• Developed partnerships with local youth sports organizations to assist with maintenance and programming at Kaiser Permanente Sports Village and Aera Park
• Secured long term naming rights for sports facilities
• Achieved national recognition through Agency Accreditation and being a Gold Medal Finalist twice.
• Expanded swim lessons and aquatic programs for all, especially those with low income
• Started the annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge at McMurtrey Aquatic Center
• Added a skate park, pickleball courts and outdoor fitness equipment, with more of each planned for the future
• Parks became and will remain an essential service to all community members
As an avid outdoor enthusiast, I live by the motto of “Leave it better than you found it.” The entire staff of the Recreation and Parks Department is dedicated to The Sound of Something Better in Bakersfield, and each one is proud to be part of creating and making life better for everyone. Climate change, population growth and keeping up with trends will continue to challenge staff and the new Director. Please use the city’s parks and facilities and treat them as an extension of your own backyard. Be safe, be kind and always enjoy!