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City Manager Alex Nguyen (Photo courtesy City of Oxnard)
Thursday, August 12, 2021

By Chris Frost

Tri County Sentry

Oxnard-- The conversation about what the council will do with its American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding continues with Councilman Oscar Madrigal saying the majority of the money they receive should be spent in zip codes 93030 and 93033, as Covid-19 numbers start to rise.


"Unfortunately, we're looking at dark times ahead again," he said. "At the end of the day, whatever we decide, that money should benefit those two zip codes regardless of the districts because they were the hardest hit."


He said an article in the Los Angeles Times did not paint the government in a good light regarding the people in La Colonia and Southwinds neighborhoods.


"It painted that residents were left to fend on their own," he said. "It looks like we're heading in the same direction. I truly believe that the majority of this money should benefit those two zip codes."


Councilman Bert Perello commented that some fire hydrant areas in the city are painted red, and some are not. 


"There have been a lot of concerns about people who are parked at the corners of intersections, and they block a person's ability to look forward when they come up to an intersection or a stop sign or a non-stop sign and seeing what is coming specifically on their right side," he said. Maybe we can start painting these things and make notice that you're not supposed to park there. Along with that, it would be a total 100 percent waste of money if we don't enforce it. These things need to be enforced. On Vineyard Avenue, there are fire hydrants, and in the evening, there are cars parked in front of them. We haven't had a tragedy, but when there are rules, people are supposed to follow them."


Councilman Gabe Teran said there are "a number of parks" with non-functional older equipment.


"This is not an all-inclusive list, but we can look at Marina West, Sierra, Eastwood, Johnson Creek, and Del Sol Park," he said. "We have so many needs in these parks, and I'd like to look at the ones in the most need. 


He's also looking for a built-out sports park at the corner of Oxnard Boulevard and Gonzales Road.


"That is something that has been a long time coming for that particular neighborhood," he said. "I think it's the right thing to do if we have the ability to do so. It would serve that community and the entire city very well. Especially if we move forward with the sports amenities that we are looking at there."


He also asked if the city can cover the cost of the newly proposed aquatic center at College Park.


Teran also wants to examine replacing the tennis courts in Oxnard, which are non-functional, and examine the community benefit.


"They used to have tennis tournaments there," he said. "People would come from all over California to play at that tennis club."


He said if the money gives the city the ability to do a seismic study on the Oxnard Performing Arts Center (PACC), they should do it.


"We need to see where we are, what can be done, and if it's financially viable to move forward with something once it is done," Teran said. "I'd like to see about the other side of the facility, the rooms for rent, and what do they need. Do they need an upgrade, are there structural elements that need to be fixed. I know the non-profit has done a lot of work with this. What can we do to help them and elevate this entire facility, not just the theater?"


He also pointed out the need for ADA (Americans of Disabilities Act) upgrades at the Wilson Senior Center.


"If we need to dedicate $20,000 for ADA upgrades, I absolutely can see us doing that," he said. "The same thing for our Multi-Service Center in Colonia, where they don't have ADA compliant items throughout the facility. Any of our senior facilities that are in that position, I would like to look at that."


Councilwoman Gabriela Basua previously asked about removing projects from the list that has some funding, so she wants to see a more condensed list.


"What projects really don't have money and take away the projects that we can fund from other sources," she said.  "I'd like to know what my colleagues think of that idea?"


City Manager Alex Nguyen said he wanted to provide funding where there are alternative funding possibilities.


"It doesn't mean we have the funding, but it does mean that we can apply to those sources," he said. "In other words, there are funds available, but they are not guaranteed."


Basua wants to prioritize things in the city's five-year priorities and update the city's parks.


Nguyen asked the council for one item, asking for the UCLA Chicano Research Study Center to do an extended research project for the community.


"In September, I can talk that in more detail, but that's the only thing that I'm looking for the council's support," he said. 


Perello noted that Nguyen's suggestion does not cater to a specific group; it caters to the entire city.


"It's a wise move," he said. "With the limited cost, if it's done correctly, I'm sure that our city manager, staff, and the UCLA institution will do a good job."