While sitting at the dedication of the new Your American Heritage Monument in Atascadero last week, my mind drifted to other things (as it usually does). I know I’m hard on my community sometimes because I think it can look better. I harp on lack of sign enforcement and nonconforming uses and make fun of local politics.
But there is one area where this community shines like the brightest star in the universe.
It is how most of what is good about the community gets done, not by local government, but by individuals and service clubs combined with generous donations from so many local businesses.
First of all, I thought of Chuck Ward and all his hard work, which resulted in the monument to our American heritage. He and others got the job done. Chuck also was involved in a major project prior to the heritage memorial, and that is the Faces of Freedom memorial that now graces a prominent corner of Atascadero Lake Park.
Memorial Field at Atascadero High School was a major volunteer effort led by Campbell Miller and citizen volunteers in 1945, much like the Paloma Park recreation facility, which was built by a new wave of citizen volunteers in the late 1970s.
Thanks to the efforts of Jim Alvord and help from the likes of John Healey, Bruce Arnold and others, Atascadero acquired some baseball diamonds in the 1960s. No county tax dollars were used to build those fields.
Chuck Paddock gave us a zoo.
When the local Chamber of Commerce needed an office of its own, chamber volunteers built a building on a small portion of the mall that had been cut in two by the freeway. They got permission from the county to build there but no money to help pay for it.
Even in more modern times, Atascadero’s Morro Road library facility was the result of tireless work from Sarah Gronstrand. And Sarah’s daughter, Grenda Ernest, is one of the prime movers with Friends of the Library, which will be moving into a new facility later this year. Sarah also served as chairwoman of Friends of the Lake Pavilion, raising more than $110,000 30 years ago to help finish the Pavilion on the Lake.
In the past year, Atascadero Kiwanis Club built a $125,000 bandstand at the edge of Atascadero Lake while at the same time helping in the construction of horseshoe pits at Paloma Creek Park and bocce ball facilities at the Colony Park Community Center.
And soon we’ll see work underway on a unique play facility in the Colony Park complex for children and others with special needs.
I know it’ll get done. It’s what we do best.