Editor, Daily Nexus:
On May 2, the Nexus staff ran an editorial questioning the Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District’s desire to spearhead plans for a community center in Isla Vista (Daily Nexus, “Building Blues“). The Nexus concluded that Isla Vistans are more concerned about lighting and sidewalks than a community center.
One only has to walk into the I.V. Teen Center on a weekday night to see how badly I.V. needs a community center. The teen center is literally bursting at the seams with activities, including drop-in tutoring, games, ESL classes, community meetings and counseling. These are only some of the things a community center can offer. While it is the closest thing to a functioning community center, the teen center does not have the resources, staffing or the facilities to sustain this role.
Does the community care about a community center? Just last week, the county and university conducted a survey through the Substance Abuse Prevention Project that assessed the needs of the community. A community center was second on the long list, right behind rent control.
Some students may be unaware of the possibilities of a community center. However, models of the community center (now on display at the UCen) have received lots of enthusiasm and positive feedback. As more students see the possibilities of a community center, support for it can only grow. While students might not jump up and down for this center at first, I believe that many are fully in support of what it has to offer.
Historically, the debate over past community center efforts have had more to do with how it should be funded, rather than if it should be built. The current effort to build a community center will have to involve a lot of support and collaboration between the IVRPD, the county and the university.
The only people who have consistently opposed a community center in Isla Vista are the I.V. landlords and a few homeowners. They do not want a place where Isla Vistans can build a community and fear it will be a future city hall if Isla Vista becomes its own city.
I am in support of building a community center because I think it has the opportunity to bring the community together – students, families, seniors, homeowners and the homeless. It can be a place for art, dance and recreation, as well as a meeting space. It will be a place to build community and a place where Isla Vistans can get to know one another.
Isla Vista is a diverse, beautiful community. It needs a place to thrive.