Concerts draw big crowds

Members of the band Suave perform during a free concert at Miller Park on July 10.  The Community Services Department coordinates the popular summer concerts each year.

If you are one of the thousands of residents who enjoyed events at a park or public pool in Fontana so far this summer, chances are that you can thank the Fontana Community Services Department for helping supply the good times.

The Community Services Department oversees a huge assortment of entertaining activities throughout the year, and interest is particularly high during the summer months.

"Our pools are packed, and our summer concerts are very popular," said City Councilmember Lydia Wibert, after observing a large throng of attendees at a performance by the band Suave at Miller Park on July 10.

The department is responsible for programs that promote active lifestyles and communities, support education and cultural awareness, and provide interactive recreational opportunities for Fontana residents of all ages.

The department coordinated the huge Fourth of July Celebration which drew thousands of people to Fontana High School, and will also be organizing the Fontana Arts Festival at Fontana Park on Saturday, July 26.

On July 18, the city will celebrate one of the department's biggest accomplishments. A press conference will be held to commemorate Fontana's No. 1 ranking in the United States for being awarded gold medals in all five categories of the Let's Move! Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC) program, which is a major component of First Lady Michelle Obama's comprehensive Let's Move! initiative.

Even though Fontana was hurt by financial challenges during the recession in recent years, the City Council sought to maintain a high level of services through the Community Services Department.

The department's budget has increased from $12.5 million in the 2010-2011 fiscal year to $14.4 million for 2014-2015. An increase in some user fees for non-city-sponsored groups utilizing the fields has given the city extra funds.

During the new fiscal year, the department received a 2.10 percent funding increase and has added one more full-time position (for a total of 44) along with 24 more part-time positions (for a total of 553).

The Community Services Department accounts for 13.6 percent of the city's $79.1 million general fund budget, the second-highest percentage of any department (the Police Department receives the majority of funds, 58.7 percent).

Wibert said the Community Services Department's efforts go hand-in-hand with police work in preventing the crime rate from rising.

"Every dollar spent on our parks and recreation programs is extremely effective in helping to keep our community safe," she said. "It brings our families together to dance, to be in sports, and to have fun in the park."

She also praised all the volunteers who help non-city-sponsored athletic programs such as Little League succeed. This month, all-star baseball and softball tournaments were held at Bill Martin Park and Village Park.

According to city statistics, more than 1,576,000 attendees utilized community programs, services, activities, or facilities by participating in Fontana's provided services or by being a spectator during the past year.

In addition:

• The Fontana After-School Program serviced an average of 3,000 students daily (more than 520,486 youth annually);

• Aquatic programming served more than 100,000 participants;

• About 150,000 seniors were positively impacted by services, activities, and programs at the Fontana Community Senior Center;

• More than 1,200 individuals with disabilities and their families participated in specialty programs and events.

The department provides these programs, services, and events through seven neighborhood and specialty centers, two community centers, an aquatics center, a splash park, an auditorium, a dinner theater, 39 parks, and through partnerships with nonprofit and service organizations throughout the county.

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