The Livermore Area Recreation and Park District Board of Directors received reports on the Rangers Reading Outreach Program and the status of the Tri-Valley Conservancy (TVC) bridge in Sycamore Grove Park.
Both items were placed on the July 10 agenda as information only items.
Ranger Amy Wolitzer told the board, "We feel it is our responsibility to reach all members of the community. The Ranger Reading Outreach Program attempts to do that."
The target audience consists of families who live in Livermore but have not been to Sycamore Grove Park for various reasons. Wolitzer continued, “They include the lack of transportation – with the nearest bus stop at least a mile away, unfamiliarity with parks and trails, and nervousness about entering ‘wild’ areas.”
Funding was a question mark, she added. “We received a generous grant from the Jerry Cohen Foundation that paid for a bus and staff time to run the program.
“To reach this audience, we went to the library and also worked with existing programs that reach under-served Livermore residents.
“At the library, rangers visited and took part in story times. They provided information about Sycamore Grove and brought things to look at, such as a snake.
“To further the outreach, the district worked with a migrant outreach program that serves 3- and 4-year olds. They were provided with information about the park.
The culmination of the program involved a visit to Sycamore Grove. Wolitzer said that the bus brought 37 participants. Another 100 arrived by private car, mainly from the Spanish speaking community. "They were concerned about getting on a bus with someone they didn't know," she commented.
Activities upon arrival included a magnification station, puppet play area, a binocular burrow and most popular, a scavenger hunt in the native garden. A half-mile walk with a lot of stops including one at the Hobbit Tree followed.
Wolitzer said a diverse group took part in the field trip, with half to two-thirds Spanish speaking. Other languages included Punjabi, Hindi, Tagalong, Dutch and Vietnamese.
Suggestions made by participants to improve the experience included recruiting high school students to help with the event, using a portable microphone, and forming smaller groups.
Wolitzer said, "We are hoping this will become an annual program."
Asked if he wanted to comment, Steve Cohen from the Foundation, noted that the program meshed with the goal of the foundation to support science education programs. "It is our intention to continue it. It's a great program. We're just happy to be a part of it.".
Laura Mercer, executive director of TVC, reported that construction was to start July 15, 2019. The southern part of Sycamore Grove Park will be closed until November/December 2019, when the project is expected to be completed.
The groundbreaking ceremony will be held Monday, July 22, 2019. It will be held in the staging area across from the Wente complex. "We look forward to passing the keys to LARPD." she concluded.
Once completed, nearly 25,000 acres of open space will be linked together through five parks—Sycamore Grove Park, Del Valle Regional Park, Ohlone Regional Wilderness, Sunol Regional Wilderness, and Mission Peak Regional Preserve.
The bridge will become part of a continuous 44-mile regional trail. There will be more than 17 times the trails to explore through the five linked parks. Trail access will open up for equestrians, cyclists, strollers, and people with disabilities to enjoy, also. Wildlife will also have the interconnected habitat needed to survive.