The community organization Friends of Jacob Myers Park has been able to work through the COVID forced ‘vacation’ of the last several months, and has resumed meeting once again.
One of its first actions, following getting caught up with activities at the park, was to hold its annual meeting and to name its new board of directors. The meeting had to be postponed from last April because of the enforced lockdown of communities to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
FJMP is a group of volunteers dedicated to helping the City of Riverbank manage Jacob Myers Park, a facility donated to the city by the Myers family. It was founded by Scott McRitchie, who had recently moved to Riverbank. When trying to use the park with his wife, Marilyn, they discovered the run-down, almost abandoned condition it was in. It was said that drug paraphernalia was scattered about the grounds and that the dilapidated area kept families away.
McRitchie organized the volunteer group and, working with city officials, raised funds to purchase new, modern playground equipment. That was back in 2000, when members of the community came out to help install the equipment. He spent many years serving as the group’s president prior to his passing.
For many years, the FJMP organization has been involved in planning, development and expansion of park facilities. It has also been involved in many Eagle Scout projects through the years, from railings to owl’s nests, to fence posts.
Last week, the FJMP held its annual meeting and elected a new slate of officers of the board of directors.
The new board includes Jessica Costa as its president, Jim Sughrue as vice present, Bruce Edwards as treasurer and Christine Edwards as secretary.
Also at last week’s meeting, the group heard a report from city Parks and Recreation Department leader Sue Fitzpatrick about a recent meeting she had with local representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The corps has jurisdiction over public properties along waterways in the country, and controls the land to the west of Jacob Myers Park. The city hopes to be able to use some 30 acres or so that is immediately adjacent to the park’s boundary.
Fitzpatrick told of the walk-through she had with the group and mentioned that they seemed impressed with what has already been done at the park and the city’s plans for expansion. She said the city is planning to extend the walking/biking trail to about a three-mile loop.
She did say that it would be a nature type trail, not paved like the existing facility.
The ‘Friends’ are always looking for new members, especially those interested in helping maintain and expand the park.
The group meets on the fourth Thursday of the month, except during the holidays, when Thanksgiving and Christmas make it difficult for such meetings. This year, these meetings were moved up. Wednesday, Nov. 4 was when the new board was elected and the next meeting is set for 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3.
Friends of Jacob Myers Park meetings are usually held in the Burney Pavilion at the park, but once it starts getting dark too early, meetings, like this next one coming up, move to the city council chambers in downtown Riverbank.
For more information on the group, call Sue Fitzpatrick at the City Parks and Recreation Department, at 209-863-7149.