Opinion: Everyone should be municipal commissioner, at least once | New

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For the past six years, I have been a member of the Palo Alto Parks and Recreation Commission. It has been a very rewarding experience for me, and I want to encourage others to consider joining her, or one of the other city commissions this fall. The city is currently recruiting new board members and commissioners until October 19.

My wife, Jane, was right when she suggested that serving on the commission might help close the retirement gap, although many members are younger and not retired. Being a commissioner has allowed me to serve the community without having to run for office and get elected; the members are appointed by the municipal council. It also allowed me to be part of changes that I thought would be good for the future, instead of sitting around feeling helpless. In addition, it has given me an understanding of how our municipal and regional governments work, as well as a great appreciation for the dedicated municipal employees we rely on every day.

At every meeting, I saw the value of something I learned a long time ago: the three Ps of success: patience, perseverance and above all politeness. I am very proud of how the Parks and Recreation Commissioners, City staff and City Council members have worked so well as a team over all these years. They get things done with the minimum of politics, bureaucracy and infighting that I have read elsewhere. Patience, persistence and politeness are so important in achieving our goals.

Another “P” is passion. It is neither something that I entered the Commission with, nor something that I felt every week. I did not bring any special knowledge or training with me other than my active involvement as a Palo Alto parent of three children, enjoying youth sports, school activities, parks and open spaces. The passion for some of the topics that have been covered has really helped me to put in the time and do the best job I can, despite the attractiveness of working, being a husband, being a parent, grandparent and taking care of my own. elderly parent. I felt particularly passionate about open space issues and Cubberley Field.

There is something to be passionate about for everyone in this diverse community. Commissioners represent all walks of life: soccer moms and dads, academics, technicians, retirees, youth, tennis players, pickleball players, joggers, coaches, knee swimmers, environmentalists , dog owners, neighborhood champions, apartment dwellers, fundraisers and employees of Palo Alto Enterprises. Thinking of all the people who use our parks and green spaces (we call them stakeholders), it is not difficult for Commissioners to be passionate about different things and to bring that passion and expertise to the rest of the world. between us.

I am proud of the mix of issues and successes that have marked our programs over the past six years. In many ways, they have mirrored the challenges facing the whole city, including the growing population (4,000 more inhabitants over the past 10 years, as noted in this document). Parks and open spaces are affected by everything that happens in this city and conversely they are always at the top of the list of things residents love about our city.

The three biggest accomplishments of the commission since taking office are the new 25-year Parks and Open Space Master Plan approved in 2017, the incredibly difficult opening of the Foothills Nature Reserve to everyone, and the challenges of deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth programs, sports, playgrounds and park maintenance. The master plan has influenced everything we’ve done since 2017, including creating a new park and redeveloping several of our city parks each year (this year it’s Boulware and Rinconada parks).

We also stood on the shoulders of these giants before us and completed the popular Magical Bridge Playground, the new community center in Mitchell Park, a plan for the future Cubberley community center, the expansion of the recycled water system of the purple pipe for irrigation of the park, and the renovation of the Baylands promenade.

The commission saw youth programs, year-round camps and sports leagues attracting record numbers of children and the successful outsourcing of the Rinconada Aquatics program. There’s also the new regionally recognized pickleball center at Mitchell Park, the new Junior Museum and Zoo, the US Highway 101 bike bridge, the renovated El Camino Park and Cubberley Field, the rebuilt Emily Renzel Pond and the new Baylands Golf Links (formerly Palo Alto Golf Course), which was renovated as part of the completion of San Francisquito’s massive flood control project to tackle climate change and sea level rise. , we made the incredibly difficult opening of Foothills Nature Reserve to everyone and tackled the challenges of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth programs, sports, playgrounds and yard maintenance. parks.

All of this involved fostering community contribution, dealing with severe budget constraints, identifying legal issues, reconciling conflicts between various park users and neighbors, identifying safe cycling and walking routes. to schools and parks, to meet school, city, county, region and state mandates. government agencies. We also touched on rising tides and climate change and the impact of growth at Stanford University.

There is something here that everyone is excited about, and I encourage everyone, young and old, to apply and be a part of this microcosm of our democratic process on cityofpaloalto.org.

As they say, democracy is not a spectator sport. Get involved.

David Moss is a longtime resident of Palo Alto who sits on the Palo Alto Parks and Recreation Commission. He can be contacted at [email protected].


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