By Alba Ibarra
The Department of Parks and Recreation hosted its 16th Annual Parks Summit on April 26 at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia. More than 400 professionals representing cities, unincorporated communities and various organizations gathered at the event to network and hear about important issues that will help them serve their constituents more effectively.
“The Park Summit was a huge success, and the largest attendance we’ve had so far is evidence of how much this event is valued,” said Department Director John Wicker.
The theme of the summit was “Connecting Communities Through Innovation.” Informative sessions such as IT Innovations: Moving Parks into the Technology Era, reinforced the purpose of the summit, which was to offer the best possible resources and technology to better serve our communities.
Jane Beesley, Administrator of the L.A. County Regional Park and Open Space District, updated attendees on Measure A, and the way in which cities and unincorporated communities will benefit from the anticipated revenue for new parks and maintenance. Doug Houston, Legislative Analyst, informed the audience about Proposition 68, the upcoming Parks, Environment and Water Bond that will be on the June ballot in California.
Keynote speaker Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, Professor of Urban Planning and Associate Provost for Academic Planning at UCLA, spoke about how parks are imperative to the social, mental and physical health of the community. She gave the audience excellent ideas to make parks more inclusive, age-friendly and smart.
Michael Whittiker, Acting Recreation Superintendent for the City of Carson Recreation and Human Services Department, said he looks forward to the summit every year.
“This event offers resources and ideas that we take back to our department so that we can offer the best possible services to our constituents,” he said. “The comprehensive workshops are my favorite part. The networking amongst attendees is a great opportunity to connect and share tips related to the recreation field.”
Andrea Zamora, Assistant Recreation Leader with the City of Huntington Park’s Parks and Recreation Department, attended the summit for the first time. “It was a very informative event that will help me in my department,” she noted. “I especially liked the Homeless Session, because I’m at the front desk and homeless people come to our gym to shower. Now, I have more information for them when they ask about services available to them.”
Attendees left the event feeling energized, ready and sharing a common goal, which is to improve the quality-of-life in our communities because Parks Make Life Better!