Isla Vista residents gathered at the site of a proposed new community center in Estero Park to kick off the campaign supporting a ballot measure that will decide the project’s fate later this year.
Local residents will vote on Measure D in the upcoming Nov. 2 election, the results of which will determine whether construction can begin on the $11 million Vista Square community center. If the measure passes and construction goes according to plan, the four-acre complex may offer Isla Vistans centralized child and senior care facilities, as well as a teen center, skate park, soccer field, basketball courts and community gardens as soon as spring 2006.
Logan Green, a director of the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District, is one of the organizers of the coalition pushing for the passage of Measure D. He said the group’s goal is to use the community center as a rallying point for future improvement projects in I.V.
“I.V. has always been neglected,” Green said. “We’re trying to fix everything up, and we’re starting here. It’s going to be a bright spot in the community.”
Green said he is confident the coalition will be able to convince voters to approve construction of the community center, which has not been strongly opposed since it was proposed last February.
“We’ve had huge support from student leaders, organizations like El Congreso and families in the community,” Green said. “There hasn’t been any opposition so far.”
To secure the measure’s passage in the November election, the coalition will need to convince two-thirds of voters to support the project. Even with no real opponents to the community center, it will not be a simple task, Green said.
“We need to get 66 percent of the vote for the measure to pass, and that’s no easy feat,” Green said. “Our biggest obstacles are apathy and uninformed voters.”
Third District Supervisor Gail Marshall, who spoke at the event, said I.V. residents deserve a central location that offers a wide range of public services.
“I.V.’s time has come,” Marshall said. “It’s such a diverse community, and not all the needs are being met within the community.”
Marshall said she wanted to stress that Measure D – unlike many ballot measures – will not cost I.V. residents anything extra, as funding for the community center will be provided through grants, state funding and private donations.
“Usually, a local ballot measure has things to do with taxes,” Marshall said. “This is all about goodwill.”
LuAnn Miller, executive director of Isla Vista Youth Projects, said the IVYP will cooperate with two other organizations – the Isla Vista Teen Center and ONEgeneration – to provide care for different age groups.
Miller said the three organizations’ “intergenerational” approach to social services will bring children in regular contact with the elderly, a system she said has been scientifically proven to benefit everyone involved.
“We’ve really come up with a unique system,” she said. “Once it is built, this community center will be a national model.”
Miller said she is especially hopeful that the community center will be approved so that youth will finally have a safe place in I.V. to hang out and play.
“Isla Vista children deserve what every child deserves,” Miller said.
Zoila Cabrera, a board member of local activist group PUEBLO and longtime Isla Vista parent, spoke at the event through a translator. She said many of the families who live in I.V. have working parents, and that those families will benefit from the child care services the center will offer.
“Families really need the community center,” Cabrera said. “We want to have our children in a safe place.”
Cervin Morris, Associated Students president, said he looks forward to the positive effects the community center will have on UCSB’s relations with the community.
“There isn’t anything like this in I.V.,” Morris said. “I fully support it. It’s the first step toward breaking down the wall between the university and I.V.”