Oxnard’s Campus Park-Time to Start From Scratch!

By R.S. Rodriguez

Aug 11, 2011

The City of Oxnard in Ventura County is planning to convert the property site of the old Oxnard High School into “Campus Park.”  As envisioned, the new park will have a sports and recreational theme– A place for children to play and participate in sports.  Certainly children need outlets for such activities, yet I feel converting that land into another sports-related park would not be the most prudent management plan.  Nay, I say…let’s build a Botanical Garden or more specifically a Japanese Garden!

The Oxnard Buddhist Temple is directly across the street from the proposed park, a convenient extension of the theme.  There are great cities throughout the world which have incorporated Japanese Gardens into their plans.  In the United States, there are Anderson Japanese Gardens near Rockford Illinois (which attracts approximately 40,000 tourists annually); gardens in Portland, Oregon, Delray Beach, Florida and my personal favorite, the Japanese Gardens located within Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, CA.  All of these gardens have a few things in common: they bring in large sums of money from tourists, provide local residents beautiful and tranquil gardens to unwind and relax and add to the financial coffers of local merchants (Oxnard Downtown merchants might see a significant boost in sales).

Oxnard and its’ residents would benefit from such gardens.  The elderly, couples, families and readers, artists & photographers, for example, could stroll through the grounds or sit and relax, enjoying a novel while sitting on a bench near a water feature.  Perhaps a section could be used for the practice of tai chi, yoga and meditation; another section could incorporate a tea house (proceeds of said tea house and a minimal entrance fee- perhaps two dollars for Oxnard residents and four for others- could offset maintenance costs).  Weekend shuttle services could stem from the Amtrak station, for example, intentionally take a route down “A” Street; exposing thousands of people on their journey to the gardens of the shopping and dining options within the Downtown Oxnard area.

Another sports park in Oxnard? A virtuous thing to consider, yet the park near the new Boys and Girls Club is used on weekends for soccer and other sports.  Fremont Middle School on many weekends does the same. There are two softball fields often used at the park on Hobson Way two blocks south of the proposed Campus Park. Perhaps the city should consider adding a few additional basketball courts across the street from Hobson Park at the park within the Community Center, and upgrading facilities at other parks as well.  There are many parks within the city limits and most do provide facilities for exercise and sport.  Add another two basketball courts or tennis courts at Durley Park.  After all, there is plenty of space there.

A Japanese Garden across the street from the Buddhist Temple and bordering the Historic District would be a better use for that land.  Residents of Oxnard need a park of peace, of tranquility.  I vote for a well-planned, authentic Japanese Garden.  Hire a couple of experts, perhaps from Japan and make a statement, Oxnard! Downtown merchants could use a jump and we in Oxnard really don’t have a location which consistently attracts tourists (the once-a-year Salsa and Strawberry Festival are fun & fiscally successful, but again, they happen once a year).

It behooves Oxnard’s city leaders to reconsider their plans for managing that project.