When Measure D passed in the Nov. 2 election, it gave the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD) authorization to build a new community center in I.V.
Now, the IVRPD faces the daunting task of raising the $13.5 million needed to begin construction on the project.
Logan Green, a member of the IVRPD board of directors, said the measure, which allows the IVRPD to lease public land in Estero Park for the purpose of building the community center, did not allocate any funds for the actual construction of the building. Green said the IVRPD has already begun working to raise the money with the YMCA Teen Center, I.V. Youth Projects and OneGeneration, and said fund raising is expected to take 18 to 24 months.
“Unfortunately [Measure D] did not come with any money; it just came with approval to go on with the community center,” Green said. “We need all the money before we can start.”
Derek Johnson, general manager of IVRPD, said raising the $13.5 million will be a major focus for the board in the months to come, and said the IVRPD will be soliciting private donations from local philanthropists, government grants and foundation money.
“That is probably the biggest challenge,” Johnson said. “We need to go out and start raising the money. We are working collaboratively in a concerted effort.”
The IVRPD is eligible to receive government grants, Johnson said, since it is a government organization. He said the nonprofit organizations working with the IVRPD are able to raise money through individual contributions, and he said the groups have collectively raised over $1 million in pledges to date.
Green said Isla Vista Project Area Committee/General Plan Advisory Committee (PAC/GPAC) has recommended the community center as a priority project and has offered to eventually give money to the construction, as well.
“I.V. PAC/GPAC agreed that upon the completion of the master plan, they would give $2.5 million [to the community center] over five years,” Johnson said.
In addition to raising funds, Johnson said, the IVRPD also needs to obtain a building permit, an Army Corps engineering permit and a coastal development permit. An environmental impact report, which will focus on the impact of noise, traffic and parking as a result of the community center, also needs to be completed, he said.
The IVRPD is in the process of completing the design for the community center, Johnson said.
“The next step is to continue to work on the design process,” Johnson said. “Up until now we only have a conceptual design.”
Green said the basic layout for the 28,000 square foot building has been completed, but he said that many details, such as a color scheme for the building, are still undecided. He said a Los Angeles-based architectural company, MDA Johnson, Favaro, has been chosen to come up with the master plan and design for the park.
“We picked them because they have the most experience with working on community projects with a lot of community input,” Green said. “We went through a good four months of community input to make sure the community center really reflected the priorities of folks in I.V.”
Green also said MDA Johnson, Favaro has a reputation for coming up with creative solutions that can keep costs down.
Johnson said the community center, when completed, will serve day care-aged children, seniors, teens and the general I.V. community. He said the eight-acre park will also include a skateboard park, regulation soccer fields, basketball courts and one large, multipurpose community room.
“I.V., for being such a dense community, has an abundance of parks, but doesn’t really have any indoor space to bring the community together,” Johnson said. “It is shocking to us that we have this young population that would love to skateboard, yet there is no professionally designed skate park.”
Construction is scheduled to take 18 months, Johnson said.
Assuming everything goes as planned, Johnson said, I.V. residents could be using the community center in as little as three and a half years from now. He also said 3rd District Supervisor-elect Brooks Firestone will be a key agent in making the project work.
“Really, it is up to Firestone,” Green said. “We are looking forward to working with Firestone as soon as the master plan is adopted.”
Green said there has been interest in a community center for I.V. for over thirty years and said he is excited that the idea is finally being realized.
“It is going to be a cultural hub for I.V.,” Green said. “It’s going to be our first bit of civil space. … We have no community space. The university has been doing a great thing by bringing movies and entertainment to Embarcadero Hall and I.V. Theater, but we need more. I.V. has been the most neglected area by the county. This is going to offer some great services for [the I.V. community].”