Serge Dedina

When I was a kid growing up in Imperial Beach I divided my time between the beach, the Boys & Girls Club and the Imperial Beach Parks and Recreation Program. I spent the summer taking very low cost swimming lessons offered by the city at the Mar Vista High School swimming pool. I had a valued membership card at the Boys & Girls Club (back then it was just the Boys Club), and I took guitar and tennis lessons from the city’s parks and rec program. I will always be grateful that I learned to swim well, because like many of my Imperial Beach Lifeguard peers, my summer saving lives at the beach paid my college tuition. That is why it is so important that parks and recreation become a critical component of the essential services provided by local government in Imperial Beach.

According to the National Recreation and Park Association, “Just as water, sewer, and public safety are considered essential public services, parks are vitally important to establishing and maintaining the quality of life in a community, ensuring the health of families and youth, and contributing to the economic and environmental well-being of a community and a region. There are no communities that pride themselves on their quality of life, promote themselves as a desirable location for businesses to relocate, or maintain that they are environmental stewards of their natural resources, without such communities having a robust, active system of parks and recreation programs for public use and enjoyment.”

Unfortunately, lean budgets throughout the past years resulted in the cancellation of the Imperial Beach Parks and Recreation Department. Thankfully, as a result of the improving economy as well as the city’s forecast tax revenues and philanthropic support and grants, we have the opportunity to once again provide the essential parks and recreation services and programs that our community needs to thrive. We have learned over the past year in this pandemic that human connections as well as access to the outdoors are priceless. The greater the web of family, friendship and community connections we have, the happier and healthier we will be. We must make sure that our kids and families and all our residents have the opportunity to interact with each other in positive activities and programs that bring us closer together.

My mother and father were big believers in parks and rec programming and enjoyed it in their years as active senior citizens. My mother loved taking water aerobics classes because of all the friends that she made. My dad enjoyed all the different classes and programming offered by our wonderful local library and the senior center from art to tai chi. Some of the deepest and longest lasting friendships my wife Emily has made in Imperial Beach have been through local group exercise classes.

I am very excited about the possibility of a shared use agreement for what will be a new 50 meter state of the art swimming pool at Mar Vista High School as well as all the other opportunities that we can provide our residents in Imperial Beach. I also want to thank all the organizations that today carry out recreational activities and programs for our community. With the City of Imperial Beach as an active partner in creating a healthy and thriving community, there is so much we can do to provide those essential services we have been missing from our little beach town for far too long.

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