Enjoying – and supporting – Gilroy’s wonderful parks system

The United States is home to the most amazing and diverse park
systems in the world. As residents of California, we can boast that
we have some of the most majestic parks of all. People travel from
all over the world to witness first-hand their awe-inspiring
beauty. These parks are magical places that help us get away from
the daily grind and enjoy our natural surroundings.
By Anna Bielecki

The United States is home to the most amazing and diverse park systems in the world. As residents of California, we can boast that we have some of the most majestic parks of all. People travel from all over the world to witness first-hand their awe-inspiring beauty. These parks are magical places that help us get away from the daily grind and enjoy our natural surroundings.

Fortunately, you don’t need to travel far to enjoy the outdoors. As residents of the City of Gilroy, we are fortunate to have a wide variety of parks right in our backyard. The City of Gilroy Community Services Department operates 15 parks as well as an open space preserve.

On any given day as I drive through town, I see children playing on the playgrounds at Del Rey, Rainbow or Las Animas Veterans parks while parents watch and socialize. The skate park at Las Animas Veterans Park is always busy with skateboarders and bike riders practicing their skills. My children have participated in the Kidz Love Soccer program offered through the Community Services Department Recreation Guide held at both Del Rey and Las Animas Veterans Parks. I can’t even count the number of birthday parties we have attended over the years that were held in a local park – always a success with both parents and children.

Just this past Sunday, I was jogging along the levee (officially known as the Dennis Debell Uvas Creek Preserve). Out enjoying the trail with me were dozens of other runners, walkers and bikers. There were families enjoying an evening walk, kids riding their scooters, people walking their dogs and teenagers exploring the creek. And the best part? All of this enjoyment was being had for FREE, compliments of the City of Gilroy!

Parks are for the entire community, and are especially critical during tough economic times. Unable to afford expensive vacations, parks provide a place for families to go and enjoy time together. Unfortunately, when there are downturns in the economy, Parks and Recreation departments are among the first to experience budget and staff reductions. The City of Gilroy Community Services Department is no different and has been striving to continue providing quality services despite severe reductions in the number of staff and their operating budget.

So, how can we as a community give back to a department that gives us so much? Here are just a few ideas:

-Volunteer your time. For example, all it takes is a few hours each month to visit your favorite park, enjoy some recreational time and pick up litter before you leave.

-Participate in a graffiti removal event. Call 846-0395 for more information.

-Participate in National River Cleanup Day on Saturday, May 15, 2010 from 9 a.m. to noon. Uvas Creek runs right through town and is a vital riparian ecosystem. Any Gilroy resident can register to be a site coordinator or a cleanup participant. Visit www.cleanacreek.org for more information.

-Donate funds to the City of Gilroy Community Services Department. Monetary donations can be designated to fix and/or replace playground equipment and maintain facilities and landscaping.

-Solicit a corporate sponsorship for your favorite park.

-Attend the monthly Parks and Recreation Commission meetings and give your input. The meetings are held the third Tuesday of every month in the City Council Chambers at 6 p.m.

I strongly encourage all Gilroy residents to contribute some time to our city’s parks. If you would like to volunteer, you can call 846-0460, visit City Hall at 7351 Rosanna Street, or you can submit a volunteer application online at www.cityofgilroy.org.

Anna Bielecki is a Gilroy Parks and Recreation Commissioner. Reach her at [email protected]

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