I was finishing up some business I had with one of the directors of the Hayward Area Recreation and Parks District, Lou Andrade, when he mentioned that H.A.R.D. had put out a historical brochure a couple of years ago. I decided to head over to the main office and see if I could check it out. The brochure is pretty interesting. Covering the time spanning from its inception in 1944 until the turn of the twenty-first century, it gives a brief description of how H.A.R.D. came to be and what it does for the community.The third page of this booklet gives the H.A.R.D. mission statement which “is dedicated to improving the quality of life for citizens of all ages by providing a variety of recreational activities, special events, facilities, and services that encourage life-long learning fitness and fun.” This shows a commitment to the community that has been embedded from the start.
H.A.R.D. solidified through a community effort out of a number of other organizations, including the W.P.A. Members of the community went to the Hayward City Council with a report in 1941. They wanted a study to establish “an ongoing recreation and park program.” December 11, 1944 – The Park District was created after the residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of it.
The Hayward Area Recreation and Park District is considered a “special district.” This means that in the eyes of the state of California, it is its own governmental body in a specifically defined space. The Wright Act of 1887 allowed communities to establish special districts which elected or appointed board members who would govern independently within the limits given by the state’s constitution and laws. Special districts can tax, decide what types of services to provide, sell bonds, and create their own administrative structures. Special recreation and parks districts have shown that they can satisfy the needs of their communities by cooperating with government to avoid duplicating services.
H.A.R.D. offers a wealth of programs and services to people of all ages. From Senior programs and programs for the disabled to the Youth Enrichment Program, this booklet gives a brief description of just about everything H.A.R.D. offers. In the back of the brochure there is a map showing the different parks and facilities run by H.A.R.D.
Run by H.A.R.D. is Mervin Morris Park, across from Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo. A feature of this park is Cameron’s Skate Area. I spoke to Lou Andrade about the history behind this. The concept of adding a skate element had already been considered. The idea was put aside because of lack of support, even though the location was ideal. The park offered excellent visibility. The proximity to the high school also made it attractive for a positive alternative for teen recreation. The idea was revived when a home-schooled young man approached H.A.R.D. wanting to know what needed to be done to get a skatepark. The boy and his mother suggested the Mervin Morris site. The Board recommended that they get community support and to raise some money for the project. He was able to gain support from the home owner’s association and even raise $5000. This project allowed the playground to be moved closer to the bathrooms, which a lot of people found to be positive. The skate area was named for the boy who made it all happen.
I find it interesting that in San Francisco skaters are trying to find community support to expand facilities on the the southeastern side of Golden Gate Park. It seems that the community may not be as receptive as the one in Hayward, though the park service is still considering the expansion. I hope that they go through with it. Parks and recreation services all over spend so much time focusing on the needs of small children and the elderly that they neglect the needs of everyone else in between. Places like skate parks and dog parks make up that difference.
On a side note, while looking through things having to do with skating I found some interesting things online. It seems that there are some skaters haunting places in California. In Merced there is said to be a headless skater who haunts the Applegate Skate Park. There is also apparently a little boy in Simi Valley with scraped up arms and face who will skate away on his skateboard at unimaginable speed when somebody tries to help him.