Who says you can’t go home again? Mark Zinns did it, and things are working out just fine.
Zinns is the new director for Montclair Park and Recreation. It must be like deja vu for him since he grew up here and worked part-time at the center in college.
“Having the opportunity to come back here is like a really great homecoming for me,” he said.
After serving in the National Guard in the ’91 Gulf War, Zinns returned to Oakland to run the Dimond Recreation Center for 13 years before transferring to Montclair.
“At Dimond we really got the community involved in our programs,” he said, “Neighbors were taking pride of ownership in the park.”
That’s what’s needed in Montclair.
Just last year, a city-funded study showed Montclair Park and Rec was weak when it came to tapping the community for advice and support. But Zinns is already changing that.
“We have an advisory council now and have already had a cleanup night to get the center back in shape,” he said. “Just walk inside, and you’ll see the difference. The old walls have a new coat of paint, and there’s a new attitude as well. Wheelchair ramps are going in this fall, and new furniture has been ordered for the center — kind of a “mini-makeover.”
But with budgets so lean and expectations so big, Zinns would like to see more volunteers with an interest in the park. The programs and time commitment is up to the individual.
“There’ll be no more than one night meeting a month,” Zinns promises, “and if you can’t make the meetings, that’s fine too.”
â€¢ HIGHWAY HOOPLA: Local Realtor/columnist Pat Talbert wants to know the latest on the barrier replacement along Highway 13.
“It seems to lose more vegetation daily,” she notes, echoing the concern of other readers who say our once-scenic byway is looking pretty barren these days.
Councilwoman Jean Quan tells me she is working with state officials to find funding for both vegetation and irrigation for new highway plants, but says “little can be assured until the budget process in the state and other agencies moves forward for the next fiscal year.”
â€¢ E-MAIL BAG: Brenda Lynch wants readers to know that hills jazz singer Barbara Dane will perform May 1 at a benefit for the East Bay Agency for Children.
“This will be a wonderful afternoon on the waterfront in Alameda,” she says, at the home of Alice and Frank Fried. If you haven’t heard Barbara Dane, her band The Golden Gate Hot Seven “trumpets” some of the Bay’s best jazz musicians, including KKSF featured artist Ric Alexander on saxophone. Their style is ’50s jazz revival, and they’re often called the Buena Vista Social Club of the Bay Area.
It’s a great party for a great cause, and you can find out more by calling Tandra DeBose at 510-268-3770.
â€¢ OUT AND ABOUT: Congratulations to local author Carole Terwilliger Meyers for her new book, “Weekend Adventures in San Francisco & Northern California.” This is actually her eighth edition of this travel guide, which includes everything from restaurants to river rafting trips.
In Oakland, she touts the tulips at Mountain View Cemetery, the Chabot Space & Science Center, the USS Potomac, the zoo and a cavalcade of cafÃ©s and fine restaurants, including Fentons. The book is available in stores and at carousel-press.com