The Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District showcased four proposed models of an I.V. community center in the UCen last week, a project that has been in the works for over 20 years.
The center was first proposed by the IVRPD in 1977, but the IVRPD has been unable to obtain adequate funds for the project. In a 1992 election, the district hoped to pass a ballot measure authorizing a special tax to generate $250,000 a year to help fund the center, but the measure failed to obtain a two-thirds majority.
IVRPD General Manager Derek Johnson said a community center has always been an integral part of IVRPD’s vision, but there has not been enough community and county financial support to build it.
“The Park District, since its conception, has had the intent to build a community center. There have been several attempts, and we plan on doing a feasibility study to figure specific costs to budget the center,” he said.
The models on display last week were created by architecture students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and featured environmentally friendly aspects, including natural ventilation, compost facilities and power by photovolactics.
The center would range in size from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet and consist of classrooms, a multipurpose room and recreation facilities. The IVRPD plans to build the center on the intersection of Camino del Sur and Estero Road.
IVRPD director Pegeen Soutar said the center would serve an underrepresented population of I.V. by providing it with a community facility.
“A lot of I.V. residents do not have access to university facilities. It would be some place in town where everyone could come together: students, families, community children,” she said. “I hope we get a positive reaction from students, but I understand if it doesn’t concern them that much.”
According to an August 1999 feasibility study by IVRPD, the cost of a “green” community center would range from $200-$400 per square foot.
Johnson said an environmentally friendly center would attract more financial support.
“We hope that because the center will be built with sustainable materials, it will give us a lot of different options as far as looking for grants and financial support. A lot of different organizations will be more willing to help us,” he said.
The center needs county and community support to cover the costs, Soutar said.
“It is still one big dream. We don’t have, as a district, the collaboration between UCSB and the county on this,” she said. “The next step is to try and get the county to use some redevelopment funds. We need to do a feasibility study to see what our costs will be on running the center, possible sources of revenue, and other budget issues.”
Mark Chaconas, the executive assistant to 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall, said the county must examine the community’s priorities before granting funds.
“All decisions will be made under process. The budgeting for the center will depend on how the community looks at the variety of projects underway in terms of their priorities,” he said. “People want to see affordable projects. We will have to see how [the community center] plays out under public review in the fall.”