Parks programs are Ashland's secret sauce

Parks programs are Ashland's secret sauce

The Summer Recreation Guide for Ashland arrived at my house. It is really an amazing document! Within its pages the recipe for the secret sauce that makes Ashland a great place to live is revealed.

In its pages you will find programs that teach us how to create a sustainable living environment and help our children learn to be good stewards of the land. Our Senior Center is a joyful and welcoming place to have a meal, practice yoga, swing dance and feel you are cared about and an important part of our community.

Our adapted programs give dignity to a population that is often left isolated and stigmatized with programs in physical fitness and social involvement. All over our town you see both the young, maturing and mature actively involved in life-long fitness programs, creative self expression, volunteering, working in community gardens. Many of these programs are subsidized by the parks by a caring community that makes quality of life attainable for many of our citizens that might not be able to experience a band performance, see the ballet or enjoy the thrill of a first time ice skating experience without these programs.

We are currently going through a significant change in the way that our parks will be funded. I am deeply concerned that the process and budgeting that has allowed our park system to grow and survive is changing. I am, however, hopeful that the City Council and the elected Parks Commission will work together to find a way to continue to protect our parks with the Ad Hoc Budget Committee working to find a lasting solution to providing the funding that the parks need for all the parks and recreation needs of Ashlanders. Our most beautiful and magical Lithia Park is over a hundred years old now and will need some major work completed to restore several historic park features for future generations.

I am committed to public input in this process because as elected public officials we need to know what our citizens want for their hard earned tax dollars. I believe it is important for the elected Parks Commission to continue to have policy-making ability as outlined in our city charter to protect all the programs that the parks provide affordably to all its citizens. This is what brings true quality of life, economic stability, and livability to our town, our secret sauce.

Stef Seffinger

Ashland Parks and Recreation chair