History of Oak View Park and Resource Center
In early 1999 a group of concerned parents approached The Oak View Civic Council on their concerns the Oak View Elementary School on Mahoney Ave. was going to be closed. The Ventura Unified School District was downsizing from 2 elementary schools to one. Which meant that Sunset Elementary (Formerly Arnaz) would be remodeled and the students of Oak View would attend one school. After this process was complete, VUSD would deem the property “surplus” and put it up for sale. The property on Mahoney is zoned residential and contained 26 separate lots. The concerns of the community was based largely on the loss of green space (the fields were being used for practice field for AYSO, little league teams as well as being used as a park for the community for 50 years) and the impact that traffic would have on the residential area if 26 houses were put into the 4.27 acre site.
The property, which is located in the center of Oak View, was originally donated to the Nordoff Union School District by several local families including 6 lots that were donated by the Kunkle family. Oak View which is in the unincorporated area of Ventura County sets between the City of Ojai and the City of Ventura. Oak View is known as an underserved, predominately working-class, rural community tucked in between the larger incorporated areas of Ojai and Ventura that continues to struggle for a sense of identity within the Ojai Valley and Ventura County. The fact that the school had stood on this ground since 1947 and is possible a historical site was important to the residents. Still another finding was the architecture of the site was done by a man named Maynard Lyndon. Lyndon was far ahead of his time when he designed this structure with energy conservation and sustainability principles already in place. He used the school as a model and recreated it thought out Southern California. This design was known as the “Ojai Section”.
The community went to work. The Oak View Civic Council helped formed a group of concerned residents and called their campaign S.O.S. (Save our School). They went door to door to survey residents for their thoughts on the use of the school site and with an overwhelming response found the residents were adamant about saving the space for future us. After several meeting with the VUSD Board they convinced the school district to form an Advisory group to find what options the community wanted for the school. The School District was very supportive of the project to save the school, however the coast to purchase the property was a hefty $1.2 million dollars.
Supervisor Steve Bennett came in into the picture and helped the community come up with a plan to purchase the property. The plan would mean that the property owners would need to pass a ballot measure to add a special assessment tax on all property owners located in Oak View, Casitas Springs and a portion of Mira Monte. S.O.S. would now take the name of Community Works! The grass roots organization helped bring the community together with a group of non-profits who were interested in sharing the site in a collaborative effort to save this precious property. The County of Ventura Parks Department approved $495,000 in park bond money to help preserve the fields and The Ojai Valley Library Friends and Foundation pledged $100,000 of matching money to help promote the relocation of the Oak View Library, which was located in a small store front on Highway 33 to move on to the property.
The final piece to the puzzle would be who would manage the property. Interface Children Family Services came forward to help get this collaborative rolling. Not only would we have such tenants as the Oak View Library, and Smart Start (Day care), Interface would also bring their services to the community. It is a win-win situation with plenty of room to grow and encompass other non-profits organizations to utilize this space.