For those who didn't do enough picnicking, strolling or just plain hanging out at the beach this summer, Saturday may be the perfect time to catch up with a day at the park.
Ventura and Oxnard city officials are staging opening-day celebrations at two new beachfront parks, Surfers' Point in Ventura and Oxnard State Beach.
New parks don't come cheap, city officials in Oxnard and Ventura say. Ventura's Surfers' Point and nearby shoreline improvements cost $3.1 million in city, state and federal money, while Oxnard city officials estimate that Oxnard State Beach cost $3.65 million.
Although the state owns the land the Oxnard State Beach is built upon, it agreed in 1983 to allow the city to design, develop and operate the new park. The park now offers a volleyball court, softball field, bicycle and pedestrian pathways and picnic area. Officials plan to add more picnic shelters, an exercise course and children's play area by 1993.
Oxnard planted nearly 400 palm trees along the park's winding promenade, said David Gorcey, an Oxnard Parks and Recreation Department landscape architect who helped design the park.
"Every coastal community has something they point to as their 'palm park,' and we've sort of joined the bunch with this one," Gorcey said.
He said it will take about 90 years for the palms to reach their full height of 60 to 70 feet. The tallest now are about 16 feet and about 25 years old, he said.
With 62 acres and 372 palm trees, the Oxnard beach park is much larger than Ventura's five-acre Surfers' Point. But the Surfers' Point project, equipped with a new bicycle path, a new street for better access and two parking lots that together can hold nearly 400 cars, hasn't been without problems.
When Ventura city officials first proposed to improve the shoreline area around Surfers' Point in the mid-1970s, surfers worried that building a rock wall on the shore to protect the improvements from erosion would disrupt the "wave action" that has made the area a popular surfing spot.
Responding to those concerns, the city decided to move the proposed improvements, such as a new road, further inland, said Miriam Mack, Ventura redevelopment administrator. Although the physical improvements won't hinder the waves, some surfers now worry that the influx of people into the new park will crowd out surfers.
"It is going to mean more people coming around, which is good for businesses, I suppose, but it's always been a real popular surfing spot, and hopefully people will respect it and not leave trash and stuff around for those of us who go there a lot," said Maria Eubanks, an Oxnard surfer who manages Waveline Ventura, a surf shop.
Oxnard State Beach dedication ceremonies will include a 7 a.m. sunrise nature walk conducted by state park rangers; an 8 a.m. 5K Dedication Run, a one-mile fun run/walk and the park dedication at 10 a.m.
Oxnard State Beach park is at 1601 N. Harbor Blvd., south of Oxnard Shores and next to the Embassy Suites Hotel.
Saturday's grand opening festivities at Surfers' Point, which is at the end of Figueroa Street near the Ventura County Fairgrounds, will include a surf contest, which will have its qualifying heats at 7:30 a.m.; a 10-mile family bicycle ride, and a two-mile walk along San Buenaventura State Beach at 8:30 a.m. The entry fees for the bike ride and beach walk are $5 for adults and $3.50 for children 12 and under. Children under six are free.
The official opening ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. will include a sky-diving and air show.
Both park dedications are free.