The public access show “Going Green” marked its two-year anniversary with a half-hour December show devoted to the San Benito County regional park and river parkway plan. David Huboi, a member of the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce’s green committee and a local architect, and co-host Shawn Novack, the San Benito County’s water conservation project manager, gathered three panelists to discuss the topic with them Dec. 7, for an episode that begins airing this week.
Locals can watch the episode at www.cmap.tv or catch it on CMAP’s public access channel 20 on Thursday, at 7 p.m., Friday at 7 a.m. or Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
Huboi and Novack spoke with Don Kelly, the chair of the county’s parks and recreation commission; Janelle Cox, a county management analyst who has been working on the project; and Mark Paxton, a journalist and naturalist.
“It was really all about community input,” Cox said of developing a regional park plan that includes sports fields, an amphitheater, a swimming pool and amenities that will attract a diverse swath of the community.
Kelly said of the three designs presented by an outside consultant, commissioners liked the one that tied together community input with that from stakeholders and professionals. He said one of the key components they wanted to see was an aspect of the park that would be sustainable economically.
Huboi asked if the group felt they got diverse representation through their meeting process.
Cox said in addition to hosting meetings, commissioners also went to different segments of the population to find out what their needs and wants were. She said they met with seniors who voiced a desire for a swimming pool and migrant families who wanted a teen center.
“The equestrian group was also very present so they said we need to accommodate equestrian uses and they proposed a separate equestrian trail,” Cox said. “I think we tried to accommodate several diverse needs.”
Novack said he is excited about the opportunity to use the river parkway and regional park to teach residents about the watershed.
“When I go out to schools, they don’t realize where our water comes from,” Novack said. “If they realize we have groundwater, they might take better care of the watershed.”
Paxton said while many residents might think of parks and community assets as things to pour money into, they can also benefit the community. He cited a recent Knight Foundation-commissioned Gallup poll that found the three most valued assets in 30 municipalities were that the place is attractively developed in a natural environment, that it has a welcoming community and the number one most important asset was a chance for social opportunities.
“I am so excited about the regional park and parkway as a way of knitting our communities together in so many ways,” Paxton said. “But it also has economic (benefits.) It will make us more attractive to employees and employers. I’m excited as a potential future user. I think this really makes a measurable contribution to our community.”