By R.S. Rodriguez
The City of Oxnard, located in Ventura County, California, has in the last couple of years invested in many infrastructure improvements throughout the city. Many dozens of roads have been repaved, major water and sewage lines replaced and repaired and the aesthetics of a few major thoroughfares have been enhanced with landscaping and the planting of trees. Within the last four years or so, work crews could be found in various locations working on these major infrastructure improvements. There’s no doubt millions of dollars trickled in from Washington, D.C. to help defray the costs of these projects. Yet, there seem to some areas within the city’s borders which often are ignored.
Again, The City of Oxnard made many major improvements and modifications along a lot of thoroughfares in the city. I’ve noticed this while driving through Ventura, Gonzales and Saviers Roads, to name a few. If there is one major street within the city which can be considered Cinderella, I’d imagine that street would be Wooley Road, especially the two mile or so stretch between Rose Avenue and Ventura Road. East of “Five Points” Wooley runs through industrial and commercial businesses yet while driving along, one notices a dearth of trees. West of Five Points runs a train track in the middle of Wooley which eventually ends at a Naval Base in neighboring Port Hueneme. There are two schools nearby. One is an elementary school; the other is a Junior High School. This writer attended both in the late 1960s/early 1970s and back then, as now, many students walk to and from school along Wooley. There has not been one tree planted along that road since I was a child and trekked to school. The twenty-foot wide division which separates east and west-bound traffic and where the freight trains flow still have the same, sad sorry-looking scrubs of shrubs that have been there since my formative years.
A block south of Wooley is Durley Park, which runs along “Hill Street” (I have always assumed it was named Hill Street due to a 20 foot hill which is located in the park. It seems to be the only hill in this city of 200,000 or so, as Oxnard rests on an agricultural plain bordering the Pacific Ocean). Within the park are two towers, made of cement. Just as the shrubs along Wooley, these hideous looking towers have been in the park since I was a kid playing flag football and Little League baseball. At one point, it seems, they were constructed for the purposes of storing sewage water. They look like they were built in Eastern Europe during the Cold War and for the last many years have been constantly and consistently targeted by taggers with aerosol cans in hands. I’m certain The City of Oxnard would never consider, let alone finance, the demolition of these twin eyesores. About five years ago after noticing the city’s “Graffiti Action and Removal” trucks painting over the most recent tags, I thought Oxnard’s parks department should plant fast growing ivy to cover the concrete cylinders. Instead of cement and hundreds of squares of paint where the graffiti crews have covered-up the tags, the towers would be covered in lovely green in matching the grass throughout the park. I wrote a letter to the park’s department, followed-up with a few phone calls and even stopped a city work in a truck (which had the parks department logo on the side). I pointed at the towers and shared with her my idea concerning the ivy. “That’s a great idea!” she responded. That was five years ago. The graffiti trucks continue to return on a regular basis to cover-up the tags. I’d imagine The City of Oxnard has spent a few thousand dollars in paint and labor costs since I shared my thoughts about planting ivy with city officials.
Those are two areas I would like to see improved. For the sake of brevity, I won’t even comment in this article about how many departments within The City of Oxnard have consistently and historically ignored the “La Colonia” neighborhood. Perhaps I will share some thoughts on that section of town in a later article.