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Monday, July 21, 2014

Volunteers Take a Walk in the Park

Monday, July 21, 2014

Laquita and Gary Strawn
A new volunteer-based program aimed at keeping Santee’s river trails and parks user friendly needs singles and couples, boomers and retirees, Gen Xers and millennials. 
Park Watch is for anyone who wants to put their best feet forward for their community.

Take, for instance, Gary and Laqueta Strawn.
Since February, the retired Santee couple have been walking each Thursday at Mast Park with a checklist, a trash grabber and sometimes friends and family members.

They check the park for vandalism and graffiti. They also chat with visitors and take a mental inventory of who’s using the park.
Park Watch volunteers are ambassadors who offer visitors assurance that locals care about Santee’s trails and public spaces. Their purpose is to add an extra set of eyes and ears, not to supplant the role of law enforcement.  If they see something illegal, they report it to authorities.
During one of their recent patrols, Gary hiked to the far edge of the park to retrieve an abandoned shopping cart, while Laqueta pecked at fluttering fast-food wrappers with her pick-up stick.

“It gets us out every Thursday morning for some fresh air and exercise,” Laqueta said. “But I also get the satisfaction of being a good Santee citizen.”
Park Watch volunteers aren’t required to pick up trash. Laqueta does it anyway because, for her, litter is simply too annoying to ignore.

Quite often, they are joined by friends and family members, including their grandkids.
“It’s one thing to talk to your grandchildren about being responsible to make things better, but it has more of an impact when they see what you do,” Laqueta said. “Part of it for me is setting a good example for them.”

Santee’s Park Watch program was created by the nonprofit San Diego River Park Foundation under a 2-year grant for $216,000 from the Transnet Program administered by the San Diego Association of Governments. The foundation operates a separate Park Watch program along the San Diego River in Mission Valley.
So far, seven Santee residents have completed the 1-hour training and picked a portion of the San Diego River Trail to patrol. During their training session, volunteers are coached on how to be observers only and not to confront people who are breaking laws. They also take note of how many people are using the parks and trails and record othe
r statistics, such as the number of bicycle riders and those playing sports.
For the Strawns, the most alarming thing they’ve encountered so far was the discovery of several discarded hypodermic needles left under an underpass.
The Strawns say they believe their presence as volunteers reinforces the perception that Santee’s parks are family friendly and safe.
“We want women who walk their babies down here on the trail to feel safe,” Laqueta  said.
“And they do,” Gary added. “They’re down here with their strollers and kids. It’s good to see that.”
To adequately cover the 10 river trail segments in Santee, the foundation needs another 15 to 25 volunteers, said Richie Aguilera, a volunteer coordinator for the River Park Foundation.
“We’d like to have a diverse group of people, but we’d love anyone’s help,” said Aguilera.
In addition to attending the brief orientation workshop, volunteers are asked to commit  to walk one or more sections of the San Diego River Trail one each week and to do it for at least three months.
“We want them to get something out of it,” he said. “We want it to be a fun experience as well as a way to get involved in the community.”

You can volunteer for Park Watch by contacting the San Diego River Park Foundation via email at volunteer @sandiegoriver.org or by calling them at (619) 297-7380.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Prospect Avenue Project Update

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The project is approaching its half-way point.
Construction crews are continuing to dig trenches that are being used to underground the overhead electrical wires. Workers are also installing various storm drain structures such as curb inlets and catch basins.

Fire hydrants and water lines are being relocated to the new right-of-way.  New driveways are being poured, so please allow time for the concrete to cure before walking or driving over them.

Photo alert: three more structures are scheduled to be demolished the week of July 21.
Remember to obey the 25 m.p.h. speed limit that has been posted inside the construction zone, where traffic fines are subject to being doubled.

Questions about the project can be directed to Senior Civil Engineer Toby Espinola at (619) 258-4100 ext. 176.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Big Tournaments on Tap for Sportsplex USA Santee

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Restaurants may fill up faster and shopping centers may see more customers as a result of two major youth sports tournaments coming to Sportsplex USA in Santee this month.
Operators of the 15-acre sports field complex at Town Center Community Park say they anticipate crowds from 3,000 to 5,000 people will attend the opening ceremonies for each tournament.
These tournaments attract out-of-town players, coaches and their families. They generate revenue for local businesses when they eat at restaurants, visit shopping centers and refuel their vehicles.   
First up will be the Xtreme Diamond Sports World Series, which will stage an opening ceremony Saturday, July 19 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The youth baseball tournament features about 200 teams and two divisions: boys 8 years and younger and boys 14 and younger.
On Monday, July 28, the ASA Softball National Championship for girls 14 years and younger will hold its opening ceremony from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The tournament will feature 64 teams.
Sportsplex USA operates under a public-private partnership with the city of Santee, which recently extended the firm’s contract to 2029.  This year, the sports park is expected to generate about $160,000 in direct revenue payments to the city.  In 2013, Sportsplex attracted 578,050 visitors.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Prospect Ave Corridor Enhancement Project Update for July

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

 Work will continue on the installation of the electrical conduit to convert the overhead electric line to an underground system. 

 Miscellaneous storm drain structures, such as curb inlets and catch basins will continue along Prospect Avenue.

 Fire hydrants and water services are being relocated to the new right of way location.

 Three more structures will be demolished during the week of July 14.

 Concrete driveways have started to be formed and poured.  Please avoid driving and walking on the fresh concrete to allow the concrete driveway to properly cure.

 Work days and hours will be Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 Please observe the 25 m.p.h. speed limit within the construction zones.  Traffic fines will be doubled within the construction zone. 

 Please check back for continued updates on the project.

If you have any project related questions, please feel free to contact Toby Espinola, P.E., City of Santee, 619-258-410

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Anglers Gather Fish from San Diego River for Testing

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What looked like a bass fishing tournament this morning at the Walker Preserve ponds in Santee was actually an effort to gather fish from the San Diego River for toxicity testing.  About 15 anglers in float tubes volunteered to fish the ponds in the name of science.
Unfortunately, the fishing was slow. Only a few small largemouth bass and a couple of cookie-sized bluegill were caught after nearly four hours of effort.

The fish were sent to a state Department of Fish & Wildlife laboratory in Rancho Cordova to be tested for mercury and other contaminants that concern public health officials.

The findings will allow the California Fish & Game Dept. to advise the public on what species of fish and how many from this section of the San Diego River are safe to consume. It may also provide state water quality officials with evidence of pollutants, such as pesticides and PCBs, that could be impacting the river and wildlife.