Downtown Ventura’s minipark gets a makeover; block parties begin next month
Located between Oak and Palm streets in Downtown Ventura, the public minipark has served as a walkway for visitors to Main Street from Santa Clara Street. It has also become infamously known as a place for transients to loiter and participate in various criminal activities, resulting in numerous visits by the police to the area. And just recently, due to budget cuts, the city of Ventura has opted out of the lease it held with the landowner to maintain it as a public park.
Because the city will no longer hold the lease, Lori Moll, owner of Savory Cafe and Bakery, decided to take the opportunity to make her vision into a reality. Since she and other fellow restaurateurs have very limited options to cater bigger parties, losing out to hotels with banquet halls, Moll saw a place to accommodate parties between 300 and 600 people while revitalizing the area for food, fun and entertainment.
Moll plans to spend an estimated $300,000 to transform the park into a private gated venue, with new landscaping and a stage for movies in the park, jazz dinners, weddings, corporate events, etc. She said it will also be open to the public, similar to a movie theater, with a fee at the door for certain events.
If everything continues to fall into place, she foresees an opening date for the Garden on Main sometime in June after a May renovation.
“It has been approved by the [Design Review Committee] and planning,” Moll said. “We have one more process waiting on approval. We are really hoping [to be] getting it off the ground May 1st.”
In the meantime, Moll is working with other business owners, local artists and bands to throw a monthly block party in downtown, which will be held the second Wednesday of every month. The first one will be held on Wednesday, May 12, on the 400 block of Main Street.
“Basically, the purpose is for the community to come together,” she said.
The event is free to the public. The fees to set up booths are $80 for artists and $100 for food vendors. Moll said there are still several openings for vendors to participate.
Moll said that all proceeds beyond paying for permits and bands will go to the Downtown Ventura Organization, which is dedicated to a cleaner, safer and an overall better downtown.
For more information on the block party or participating in the event, go to www.venturablockparty.com.
Spring clean the pantry for charity
A little something goes a long way.
FOOD Share, Ventura County’s regional food bank, launched a 30-day campaign, as of April 12, seeking donations of cash and nonperishable food items due to a huge increase in demand for food.
Jeanne Benitez, development manager of FOOD share, said the increase in demand for food has gone up by 40 percent over last year, as the organization is currently serving more than 54,700 hungry people in the county each month.
“The community is really hurting,” she said. “We get the food out to about 140 partners, and they report the same increase.”
According to Bonnie Weigl, FOOD Share president and CEO, one in six people in Ventura County don’t know where their next meal will come from, and about 80,000 people still need help.
Donations can be made in a variety of ways. Food and/or monetary donations can be made as follows:
• By mail to FOOD Share, 4156 Southbank Road., Oxnard, CA 93036. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. For corporate donations or to set up a food drive, call 983-7100.
• Online through FOOD Share’s virtual food drive link: www.foodshare.com.
• At the Ventura Music Festival’s Herbie Hancock concert at 2 p.m. on May 2 at Ventura College West Athletic Field.
• Collected from doorsteps on May 8 as a part of the National Association of Letter Carrier’s annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive.
While all donations are appreciated, cash donations can go a long way. Benitez said that every $1 equals $7.15 worth of food.
“Can you imagine how far $5 would go?” she asked.