Acting on recognition it began at a City Council meeting earlier this summer, city officials last week unveiled a sign dedicating the trail in Jacob Myers Park. It recognizes the two decades of effort by a resident to improve life here in Riverbank, especially in the park.
The brief ceremony honored Scott McRitchie for his service on a number of city panels, including the Budget Committee and years of service on the Planning Commission, including terms as its Chair.
He has also served as a leader in a variety of charitable programs and has been a key figure in the Riverbank Housing Authority, but perhaps most notably, he has been a longtime advocate for Jacob Myers Park and has been an important part of many of the most meaningful improvement projects that make the park the regional attraction it is now.
The ceremony was attended by a small group of city staff members, along with Mayor Richard O’Brien, Vice Mayor Darlene Barber-Martinez and Councilman Cal Campbell. It was held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 5, at the trail head in the west end of the park.
As previously noted, McRitchie has spent many years serving as president of the Friends of Jacob Myers Park, heading up many of its major improvement efforts. It's an all-volunteer group of local citizens who have gathered together to improve the park over the years.
City Parks and Recreation Director Sue Fitzpatrick has described the time and effort she and McRitchie have spent together working out grant proposals and other improvement plans for the park, many of which have come to fruition over the past 20 years or so.
The council unanimously voted to dedicate it as the Scott Mc Ritchie Park Trail in his honor at a June meeting.
In a brief introduction, City Manager Sean Scully noted the ongoing efforts McRitchie has made over the years. He said a planned improvement will extend the trail much further to the east, nearer to the entrance to the park, and the trail sign will be moved there when that happens.
Mayor O’Brien pointed out that McRitchie “has had more impact on the city of Riverbank for good than any mayor or council member, ever.”
His efforts all began nearly 20 years ago, by organizing efforts to reclaim the park for family use, seeking to replace outdated and dangerous playground equipment. The project ultimately was successful in bringing together many of the segments of the community to assemble the playground that stands in the park now.
Over the years, facilities at the park have grown and improved, thanks, primarily, to McRitchie’s efforts.
A rusting, sharp-edged park slide, in the shape of a rocket, was dismantled and removed, only to be rebuilt and refurbished by Friends of Jacob Myers Park volunteers and reinstalled by city crews. It now stands near the playground and east parking lot as a monument to past fun in the park.
A state grant helped refurbish and re-open a boat launching ramp, and the group helped bring community theatre groups to perform Shakespeare in the Park in years gone by. These days, the Friends group is instrumental in helping provide free movies in the park on summer nights.
The group has also been active in helping present larger events like Beyond Earth Day, as well as picnics and musical performances. Also, it has been involved in providing funds, and manpower, to assist with several Eagle Scout projects in the park. They include the construction of horseshoe pits, a wedding gazebo, fence railings at the Bicentennial Grove, bird nest roosts, and, most recently, installation of driveway railings leading to the new Parking Lot B.