The Office of the External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA) hosted an event Saturday celebrating the launch of the future Isla Vista Community Center at 976 Embarcadero Del Mar.
Third District County Supervisor Doreen Farr secured nearly $500,000 of county funding to renovate the building, which previously housed St. Athanasius Orthodox Church, over the next year and a half. At Saturday’s launch event, participants shared ideas and recommendations for the community center’s role and services. The center is set to be complete spring 2017.
According to Farr, I.V. residents are “extremely enthusiastic” about the project.
“They have formed committees to work on different aspects of it,” Farr said. “We are certainly encouraging their participation and input into all faces of it. My mantra has just been that we really want to keep the project moving forward and as on budget and on time as possible.”
A.S. External Vice President for Local Affairs Paola Dela Cruz said the community center launched after decades of inactivity due to support from the county.
“I think [the community center] has to do with the opportunity that the county has given us to actually own — for the community to own — this building,” Dela Cruz said.
Dela Cruz also said another reason for the project’s increased momentum is a community response to challenges I.V. has recently faced.
“Unfortunately, I think it also has to do with other events that have happened in our community which have raised awareness about the issues that we have here,” Dela Cruz said. “We do need county resources, we do need the university to invest money, we do need residents to take ownership.”
Long-term I.V. resident Sue Whisenand said she hopes I.V. residents of all ages and backgrounds use the community center for a variety of purposes.
“For me, I see it being multigenerational,” Whisenand said. “I see it being a place where we have food events that help with building good nutrition and eating habits, and I see places where we can have different shows, and I see a pleasant place where maybe there are some parenting classes.”
Long-term I.V. resident Bonnie Murdock also said she wants the center to serve all I.V. communities.
“I envision it as a location for flexible activities where various groups can request use of the building, and I hope it is used for residents, students and all age groups,” Murdock said.
Dela Cruz said she was happy to see people come together to celebrate the project’s launch and show interest in its progress.
“I’m so glad to see that throughout this process different communities have been able to come together and to talk,” Dela Cruz said. “At the beginning I think it is difficult because we all have different ideas and perspectives … but it’s nice to just see, look at this, we did it together.”