Park Project



 


    The site of Rotary Community Park has been Ojai’s transportation hub for more than 125 years. Used as a stage stop from the 1880s to about 1910, visitors would get off the train to board the stagecoach to the hot springs.

After World War II the site was Bunce Brothers Lumber Yard from the 1940s to 1970.  Many soldiers who had been stationed at temporary camps on Ojai Valley Inn property during WWII stayed after the war to build homes with Bunce materials.

In the 1970s, the site was used as a nursery that went bankrupt in the 1980s, leaving behind an unsightly  vacant lot.

    A CalTrans grant provided funding to build the first portion of the Park & Ride facility in 1989.  An additional CalTrans grant was authorized in 2003 to complete the Park& Ride as part of a comprehensive Inter-modal Transportation Facility including:

  • Park & Ride and Car-pooling Location
  • SCAT Bus Services
  • Ojai Trolley Services.

With this CalTrans support, the City of Ojai installed underground utilities and site “hardscape” roads for vehicles and pathways for pedestrians, plus the trolley/bus shelter, the Ojai Trail shelter, and a protective concrete block wall along the highway, among other heavy construction elements.  This City of Ojai/CalTrans work was completed in early 2005.

 

    Meanwhile, the Rotary Club of Ojai-West approached the City with a plan to follow and enhance the completed Inter-modal Transportation Facility with irrigated landscaping, decorative stonework, and public art.

This community service project would be accomplished entirely with private contributions and without public funds.

        Rotary and other community groups cleaned up the construction site, installed irrigation systems, built a new pedestrian bridge, new trail railings and equestrian tie-up area with horse trough.

    The Rotary Club of Ojai-West also installed and dedicated the running horse theme sculpture, and stone facing for the concrete block wall.

 The finished wall was inlaid with “quotation stones” by figures from Ojai history.

    With these aesthetic enhancements, the space now provides a focal point and resting place for pedestrians, joggers, bicyclists, and equestrians using the Ojai Valley Trail, plus convenient access to public transportation.

In recognition of this community effort led by Rotary Club of Ojai-West to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Rotary International, the space is to be known as Rotary Community Park, with equal emphasis on Rotary and Community.

We all join together saying to locals and visitors alike as they drive, walk, run, or ride into town:

“Welcome to Ojai.”

 

July, 2007

Dedication Ceremony

Boy Scouts hoisted the flag up the new pole.

February, 2006

Finishing Touches

     Caps are placed on the gate columns.

October, 2005

A Walk in the Park

     Ceremonies at nearby Ojai Ford, and speeches at the park shelter celebrate the end of construction.

(And the beginning of maintenance.)

September

Footbridge Finalized

     Railings and rock face are added.

     Austin Cline, who started the Park idea years ago, stained the woodwork.

August, 2005

Engraved plaques are installed.

Greetings

  The Welcome sign is completed at the most heavily traveled spot in town.

 

Watering Hole

  The Clark Memorial Horse Trough is completed.

July

Digging for Daisies

  40 Rotary Club members and other volunteers spend a Saturday morning planting Day Lilies and digging irrigation trenches.

June

Tom Clark Horse Trough Dedication

  114 relatives and descendents of the Clark family came from all over the country, including a former U.S. Secretary of the the Interior.

May

Pony Express

    The flying horse is visible by night.

     Sculptor Ted Gall approved the use of his work by the Rotary Club of Ojai-West, which in turn voted to adopt the running steed as it’s new club logo.

April 22nd

Earth Day

    Montessori School students plant the first tree.

March 1st

Spring Cleaning

     Rotarians begin fulfilling their commitment to maintain the park, even before it is completed.

February 29th

Bring up the Lights

Installation of illumination begins.

February 26th

Bridge over Del Norte

     Rotarians gather on a Saturday morning to build the footbridge.

Reggie Wood, foreground, of West Wood Construction, provided essential guidance.

February 5th

Official Unveiling

     Dignitaries and press see the site for the first time.

February 3rd 2005

The Centerpiece arrives

     The 9-thousand pound sculpture by Ted Gall is settled onto its pedestal by Rotarians Dick Clevenger, RichardMcArthur, and Les Gardner, as onlookers cheered.

     After the plumbing goes in, the grounds won’t be dry and dusty any more.

Local horticulturists contributed flowers and greenery to the site.

January, 2005

  A New Year dawns…

     The main shelter has sprung up from the guidelines pictured below.

     …And a second shelter near the parking lot also rises.       The city takes measures to minimize pollution from runoff during construction. 

Mid-November, 2004…

     Right:  Craig Fraki, City Project Coordinator, explains to Rotary members plans for the footbridge behind him.

     The outer periphery wall takes shape.

When the city’s work is completed, Rotary covered the wall with an attractive rock facing.

A line in the sand...

     The main park shelter is positioned, measured, and laid out.

“Pegasus” future home.

    The pedestal for the stallion statue is laid.

October, 2004

Don’t tread on me…

     Fencing protected passersby from the construction, and vice-versa.

Here, the foundation for the outer perimeter wall is begun.

July 2004

The Groundbreaking Ceremony.

June, 2004 — The Work Begins

The park site was a dusty, weedy, barren lot…

November, 2003

Hope becomes a Plan

     Left: Past Rotary-West President Austin Cline first proposed turning an abandoned lumber yard into a city park.

     Right:  Architect Tom Bostrom (at right) and member Les Gardner were joined by other Rotary-West Rotarians at the first Ojai City Council meeting at which plans were presented.

1898 and on…

     The railroad arrives in Nordhoff.  Tracks follow what is now the equestrian and bike trail adjoining the park.  The “Y” was a stop, and later would become a lumber yard and a nursery.

 

Photos courtesy Ojai Valley Museum

The Nineteenth Century

     Ojai’s “Y” used to be a  stagecoach stop. Arriving tourists would embark for a ride to the Wheeler Hot Springs.

Designed by nationally known contemporary sculptor Ted Gall (center), the steel sculpture is a focal point of Community Park.

Left to Right: City Project Manager Craig Fraki: Rotary On-Site Project Co-Ordinator Steve Eltinge; Neva Williams-Bradigan, project management; Rotarian Bruce Dunwoody; sculptor Ted Gall; Rotary-West President Mike Caldwell; Rotarian Les Gardner; Rotarian Dick Clevenger, who transported the statue to the park; Ojai Mayor Rae Hansted; and ironworker Arpad Escedy.


Cartoon courtesy Colleen McDougal/Ojai Valley News

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“A Walk in the Park”

    Members of the Rotary Ojai-West club invited their neighbors, friends, and supporters to a celebration of a job well done.
Rotary Community Park, already in use for months, was officially opened.

    The evening began with a reception and speeches at nearby Ojai Ford.  The firm had been a major supporter of the project by matching financial donations from other citizens in the closing months of the park fund drive.

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  Ojai West President Jack McClenahan thanked those who helped to carry the project from an idea to a beautiful reality.  It was long list that included our partners in government, the club members who contributed their time and sweat and technical knowledge, and local artists.

    Owner Mark Johnston presented Jack McClenahan with the matching funds check for $5,000.

    Rotary West Member and champion fundraiser Dr. Jim Halverson thanked others who contributed funds to the project.

    Thanks to his relentless work and their generosity, he was able to add the last missing piece to the contribution wheel.  The Rotary Community Park project was accomplished entirely through private donations and gifts-in-kind.

    President McClenahan then invited attendees to Walk in the Park, and hear more remarks at the park shelter.


Left to right:  Joe Vito, Joe McCallister and Rene Briggs in an electric Ford, President Jack McClenahan,
Landscape artist Lawrence Nicklin, District Governer Nominee Jane McClenahan.

    Former Mayor/City Council Member Joe Vito spoke to the crowd gathered at the park shelter.  He gave a history of the park, and acknowledged CalTrans support for the Intermodal Transportation Project, and the Ojai Rotary clubs for their community service.

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    The evening ended as the crowd joined for a hearty rendition of The Ojai Song..

Oh Ojai, Oh Ojai
Where the stars they shine so bright
Oh Ojai, Oh Ojai
Love your peace and calm — I hear
The birds a-singing
Oh Ojai, Oh Ojai
Topa Topas above us all

We love you Ojai, Oh yes we do
This little Valley, this valley of ours.

Oh Ojai, Oh Ojai
The valley so serene
Oh Ojai, Oh Ojai
Warm summer evenings
and the band’s a-playin’
Oh Ojai, Oh Ojai
With your oak trees Oh so tall

We love you Ojai, Oh yes we do
This little Valley, this valley of ours.



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