Nov. 8, 2012
Tiobe Barron, OVn correspondent
Next year, visitors to the playground at Libbey Park will find relief from the scorching summer sun if Ojai’s two Rotary clubs secure funds for the park’s approved shade structure.
“Basically everyone is happy with the layout and colors,” says city manager Rob Clark after the recent Ojai Parks and Recreation and Planning and Historic Preservation commissions’ review and approval of the structure. “Now it’s just a matter of raising the funds.”
The project is the brainchild of Rotarian John Kenyon, a former Ojai resident who took his grandchild to play at Libbey Park one summer day, and found the equipment too hot for the tot to use.
Fellow Rotarian Bob Denne volunteered to help after hearing Kenyon’s idea.
“There will be three areas. The first has five sails with seven posts, the second will have three sails and the third area will have two,” Denne explained.
The “sails” are triangle-shaped swaths of porous green fabric attached to pale beige poles. The colors and design were largely chosen by the Historic Preservation Commission to match the surrounding landscaping and buildings. According to Denne, they will stay up year-round, and are meant to withstand winds up to 85 miles per hour.
“The benefit is two-fold: this area (the playground) used to have trees … the sails will keep the area 30 degrees cooler,” Denne says. “The structure also knocks out about 98 percent of the UV rays.”
Local resident and mother Lauren Snyder, whose 3-year-old son, Memphis, regularly frequents the playground, believes the idea is a no-brainer.
“I’ve taken Memphis on many days when the weather was beautiful, but the sun was extremely hot. There were usually very few, if no, children playing and often we wouldn’t even end up staying because the slides and play equipment became too hot. I think a shade structure would be a wonderful way to better utilize the park on those many warm, sunny, Ojai days. My only concern would obviously be the additional cost to build and maintain an additional structure in the park. But, beyond that, I think it’s an absolutely wonderful idea. I know we would use the park more,” Snyder said. “I’ve seen them in real life out in Arizona and Nevada and it just seems like common sense in any place that regularly gets lots of hot sunny days.”
Denne estimates that the two Rotary Clubs in Ojai, the Rotary Club of Ojai and Rotary Club of Ojai-West, have approximately half of the necessary $60,000 to complete the project. Although neither club has fundraising events planned specifically for the project, Denne hopes efforts to reach out to the community will pay off and the groups will finish raising the funds by next spring. Denne says fund-raising — and construction — should be completed in time for next summer’s heat and wave of pint-sized playground enthusiasts (along with their parents and guardians).
Visit www.rotaryojaiwest.org for more information.