Santa Maria River Levee Trail Recognizes Tom Urbanske

This article by Janene Scully was published in Noozhawk on June 10, 2016: https://www.noozhawk.com/article/santa_maria_river_levee_trail_recognizes_tom_urbanske

A multipurpose trail in Santa Maria sports a new name to recognize a former member of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and his years of service to the Santa Maria Valley.

“This will be a lifelong legacy for our community and the Urbanske family,” Recreation and Parks Director Alex Posada said during a ceremony celebrating the naming of the Tom Urbanske Multipurpose Trail.

The City Council earlier this year agreed to recognize Urbanske's service by naming the trail for him. Urbanske is credited with spearheading efforts to allow recreational uses on the levee trail.

The approval process for naming the trail took approximately a year after Jeanne Sparks and Barry Stotts first presented the proposal to city officials. 

“It took awhile, but it got done,” said Sparks, who worked as Urbanske’s aide while he was a county supervisor and now is with Santa Barbara County Action Network.

“And we have to thank the staff for their effort on it because it did take coordinating with the county and they made that happen. We’re just happy,” Sparks added.

“Tom has been such a driving force in this community. He’s done so much as a county supervisor, as a city councilman and before that as a high school teacher and counselor and he’s still involved in nonprofit boards. He’s just so deserving, I'm glad to see this trail named after Tom.”

Tom Urbanske, right, joins his family for a photo near the sign noting the Tom Urbanske Multipurpose Trail after a dedication ceremony Wednesday morning.Click to view larger

Tom Urbanske, right, joins his family for a photo near the sign noting the Tom Urbanske Multipurpose Trail after a dedication ceremony Wednesday morning. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Officials gathered Wednesday near the intersection of Carlotti and Seaward drives, where an access point is located for the multipurpose trail along the Santa Maria River levee, to unveil the new trail sign. 

Mayor Pro Tem Etta Waterfield read a letter from Mayor Alice Patino, who could not attend the ceremony, honoring the former Santa Maria City Council member.

Urbanske ran for a seat on the Board of Supervisors, serving “with integrity and fairness — more than I can say for some of our South County politicians,” the mayor’s letter said.

“Tom cared for our residents and always tried to make life better and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves,” Waterfield read. “Tom was always about fairness in making decisions and how his decisions would affect everyone.”

Urbanske also was known as a walker and bicyclist, making the trail especially appropriate, Patino wrote.

Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino also noted Urbanske’s strong support for recreational activities 

Barbara and Tom Urbankse, from left, pose with Jeanne Sparks and Barry Stotts who spearheaded effortst that led to the designation of Tom Urbanske Multipurpose Trail along the Santa Maria River levee.Click to view larger
Barbara and Tom Urbankse, from left, pose with Jeanne Sparks and Barry Stotts who spearheaded effortst that led to the designation of Tom Urbanske Multipurpose Trail along the Santa Maria River levee. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“I’ve got to say Tom, to be able to convince Tom Fayram, that you could use part of his area on his beloved levee for recreation, is probably one of the biggest accomplishments that you’ve ever done,” Lavagnino said, referring to Fayram, the county’s deputy public works director of water resources.

After leaving elected office, the retired educator remains active in the community, Lavagnino said.

“Tom, Santa Maria would not be the place it is without people like you,” Lavagnino said.

“I don't know how much we understand how great this community is,”​ Urbanske said, noting politicians are able to work together as a community despite differing opinions.

Tom Urbanske, a former member of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and Santa Maria City Council, smiles broadly during the ceremony for the Tom Urbanske Multipurpose Trail along the Santa Maria River Levee. At right is Recreation and Parks Director Alex Posada.Click to view larger

Tom Urbanske, a former member of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and Santa Maria City Council, smiles broadly during the ceremony for the Tom Urbanske Multipurpose Trail along the Santa Maria River Levee. At right is Recreation and Parks Director Alex Posada. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
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Santa Barbara County Action Network (SBCAN) works to promote social and economic justice, to preserve our environmental and agricultural resources, and to create sustainable communities.