Volunteers and professionals are helping to restore the cross.
by Councilmember Christy Weir
The Thomas Fire devastated our Ventura hillsides, including Serra Cross Park. All of the vegetation was burned, and signs, fence, trash cans, picnic tables, lights and sprinkler system were destroyed. The cross caught fire, but thankfully only a small section suffered major damage. We have discussed the option of replacing it with a new wooden cross, but the public has let us know that the scorched section serves as a vivid reminder of Ventura’s resiliency and strength through this disaster.
We have spent the past ten months working on the park: removing burnt landscaping; cutting down dead trees; removing thousands of broken bottles and other debris that collected over decades and was revealed by the fire; grading the grassy area and installing new irrigation; installing new sod and hundreds of plants; sanding and repainting damaged metal benches and trash cans; mulching paths; planting ten new oak trees; replacing the up-lights that illuminate the cross at night. All of this work was done by Dafau Landscape, Halter-Encinas Landscape, Creico Electric and many dedicated volunteers.
The gates to the park have been locked since December, so there has been no vehicle access. All of the gates are located on City-owned property (Grant Park), and will be reopened when the City Parks Department decides that public access is safe. All 106 acres of Grant Park burned and there has been a massive effort by the Ventura Botanical Gardens and city staff to renovate the park for all of our residents to enjoy again.
Serra Cross Park is owned and maintained by the Serra Cross Conservancy, a non-profit formed in 2003, when the city decided to sell the cross. Renovations after the fire have been very expensive and donations are welcome. Future plans include new signage, reclaimed wood picnic tables, fencing, a variety of trees, sidewalk, curb and parking lot improvements.
Tax-deductible contributions may be sent to Serra Cross Conservancy at PO Box 48, Ventura CA 93002. Our website is www.serracrosspark.org, and we are now booking weddings and other events for 2019. We look forward to welcoming the public back up to the cross in the coming months.