Community, county address Steckel Park Aviary at initial meeting

November 09, 2011
Santa Paula News

A meeting held between county officials and Santa Paula area residents showed strong community interest in rehabilitating and maintaining the Steckel Park Aviary.

The county had announced it would demolish the aviary, believed established in the 1950s in the park, the namesake of the Santa Paula mayor who donated the property to the county in 1926. But after an outcry by citizens and concerns expressed by the City Council, it was agreed a volunteer effort could allow the aviary to remain open.

The October 27 meeting - organized by Councilman Ralph Fernandez and Santa Paula resident Mitch Stone - drew about two dozen people to the Community Center, where suggestions on how to retain and maintain the aviary were addressed.

Supervisor Kathy Long said the birds remaining at the facility “are considered healthy enough to be there,” unlike others she said were removed due to health problems red-flagged by Ventura County Animal Control. She said any plans will call for expert input on what kind of birds should occupy the outdoor aviary.

Councilman Ralph Fernandez said he has concerns that if the aviary is downsized it will spoil the integrity and impact of the facility. Issues also include long-term sustainability of the facility and making improvements that are ADA compliant.

Audience members offered input, including Robert Moon, who noted skilled craftsman have already signaled their interest in helping to rehabilitate the facility, located north of Santa Paula off Highway 150. Moon also urged that the entrance to Steckel Park have signage noting the presence of the aviary, the only such facility in Ventura County.

After more discussion, Fernandez said, “It’s up to the county to give us a game plan” of mandated repairs and needs. And once needed work and standards are identified, “We would have a road map... then we can go out and fill in the blanks” with qualified volunteers who would complete the work.

Funding and other issues were also discussed in what Stone and Fernandez said was the first of such meetings.

After more discussion and questions of timelines, Long said those interested in saving the aviary have no worries: “No one’s going to there in the dark and tear down the aviary,” and the county will continue to work with the community.

For more information visit the Save the Steckel Park Aviary page on Facebook.

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