Record Guest Opinion Article
Thank you to The Record for publishing this article by Blair:
On Dec. 4, a proposal was brought forth to the Stockton City Council for consideration outlining the development of the beautiful 220 acres of green space that is Swenson Park Golf Course. For the approximately 29,000 households that reside in the area, this would be the first time many had ever heard of this possible development.
In the months that followed, thousands of disappointed community members have come forward in opposition. A small group of hard working, passionate and determined community members came together with a clear mission to preserve Swenson Park in perpetuity, for generations of Stocktonians to come.
This group spent many hours of research and vetting various ideas over the past three months. Ideas such as rezoning, petitions and initiatives, but they all had one fatal flaw: They could all be overturned by the current or future city councils.
On March 7, the Save Swenson group shared their proposal for the future of Swenson Park with the community at Lincoln High School. We believe the best course of action is to create an independent recreation and park district, with an elected board of residents, to assume control of the property and provide for its ongoing maintenance and operations. The district would benefit all the residents in the area, protect property values and the safety of our kids, thereby preserving a fun family destination for our community and visitors.
The park district proposal was deemed the best proposal as it places the property in the care of a Recreational Park District, with a governing board elected by the residents of the district. These board members would be residents from the surrounding city and county neighborhoods. The community board would be responsible for the future maintenance and enhancement of the park. Most importantly it removes the threat that the city of Stockton will encumber, sell or change the green space known as Swenson Park for any other use. Park districts are common in other counties, with our neighboring County of Sacramento having more than 20 park districts.
Environmentally speaking: Stockton currently has about 3 percent green space. Similar communities such as ours maintain 10 percent or more of green space for their residents. Many residents realize the detrimental impact this would have on the quality of life for all of Stockton. A recent Stockton Tree Foundation study reinforces the positive impact of Swenson, stating the park currently sequesters 94 tons of carbon dioxide per year. Converting the park to residential usage will result in a net increase of 720 tons of carbon emissions. The impact on air quality will have a negative effect on Stockton for generations to come.
Once formed, the park district board may undertake projects to enhance the aesthetic and financial stability of Swenson Park.
Solution: The quickest path forward is for the city council and the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution of support for the establishment of the Swenson Oaks Recreation and Park District. We hope this can be done as soon as possible. The elected district board then would negotiate with the city to acquire the property, either through a long-term lease or a sale. The district would manage the property, ensuring that future generations benefit from this Stockton gem.
We look forward to working with our city and county leaders to craft a solution that benefits all parties.
Some 67 years ago Bert Swenson had the foresight to plan what became Swenson Park. We now know that it is up to this generation to maintain and continue his vision for our community and sustain it for those who will live in Stockton 100 years from now and beyond. It is our responsibility to not only preserve and enhance Swenson Park, but let us use this experience to develop more green space throughout our community for future generations to enjoy.
Blair Hake is president the Friends of Swenson. here is the link to the Record Article: http://www.recordnet.com/opinion/20180402/guest-view-independent-park-district-is-best-way-forward-for-swenson-park