American Rescue Plan Act funding will make improvements at nearly all 11 parks maintained by Tulare County
VISALIA – Amy Shuklian spent a lot of her childhood at Mooney Grove Park. She remembers running across the bridge to the concession stand and paying a quarter for a grab bag of flakes to feed the fish in the pond. She loved the arcade, go karts and other amenities. The park may have contributed to her decision to earn a degree in recreation.
“It was a great place to be and it still is,” Shuklian said while speaking at an event there last Thursday. “It may not have all amenities now … but there is no reason why we can’t make improvements and bring back the glory that once was here.”
As chair of the board of supervisors, Shuklian had the honor of presenting a plan to revitalize Mooney Grove, and 10 other parks maintained by the county, at the kick off event held in front of the Lily Pond at Mooney Grove’s Arbor No. 1. Nearly every county park will be improved in the coming year after the supervisors approved a plan to spend $8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds at its Aug. 24 meeting, one of the largest investments in Tulare County Parks history.
“I have always believed that our Tulare County Parks are integral to our community, to building a happier and healthier place to live,” Shuklian said. “The improvements that will be made to many of our county parks through the funds we received through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) are an incredible win for our communities.”
County parks and recreation manager Neil Pilegard presented chair Shuklian with her own sign of improvements to be made at Mooney Grove, which included a new dog park, bridge renovation, lily pond improvements, arbor renovations, new picnic tables and barbecue grills as well as public art projects. Shuklian went on to list improvements at Alpaugh, Balch, Bartlett, Goshen, Cutler, Kings River, Ledbetter, Pixley, and Woodville parks such as updating irrigation and improving water distribution, replacing and repairing arbors, installation of new picnic tables and barbecues, community art projects, and other additional amenities.
“This investment will allow the county to make major improvements in nearly every county park,” general services agency director Brooke Sisk said. “Projects will address safety issues, include major infrastructure upgrades and cosmetic repairs, and enhance the recreational opportunities available to local residents and families.”
Shuklian asked residents to continue to donate their time and talents to the parks to compound on the county’s investment. To donate to the Lily Pond Restoration project, call 559-205-1100. Online shoppers can donate through Amazon Smile, the online retailer’s rewards program which donates 0.5% of purchases to your favorite charitable organization.
“If know someone who wants to invest, please let us know, that is what keeps us going,” Shuklian said.
For those who can’t afford to donate money, Shuklian suggested donating their time. A good opportunity to do that will be during the county’s Make A Difference Day, largest annual single-day of service nationwide and the perfect opportunity for residents to take part in this family-friendly day of service, on Saturday, Oct. 23. In partnership with Community Services and Employment Training (CSET), volunteers are encouraged to gather at Mooney Grove between 8 a.m. and noon to help Parks’ staff spruce up exteriors of restrooms with new paint and plant trees.
“Make a Difference Day has long been a favorite of mine, from helping to paint park bathrooms, to other projects I’ve been involved with,” Shuklian said. “Any community members who want to make a difference in our community are welcome to come join us!”
Make A Difference Day volunteers will receive free admission to the park, as well as snacks and coffee. Pre-registration is encouraged by visiting bit.ly/3BRcbFK or register in person at Arbor No. 1 the day if the event. Everyone in the community is welcome to participate.
Children 12 years and under must be accompanied by an adult. All tools and equipment will be provided. Social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 is encouraged.
For more information about county parks, please visit tularecountyparks.org.