Community Center construction within sight with county’s help

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After discussing the pathway to building the Idyllwild Community Center, 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington (right) posed with the group. From left are Suzanne Holland, assistant director of the county Economic Development Agency, Janice Lyle, president of the San Jacinto Mountain Community Center board, Robert Priefer, board member, Kathy Wilson, Community Service Area 36 Advisory Committee member, and Opal Hellweg, legislative assistant on Washington’s staff.	 Photo by JP Crumrine

After discussing the pathway to building the Idyllwild Community Center, 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington (right) posed with the group. From left are Suzanne Holland, assistant director of the county Economic Development Agency, Janice Lyle, president of the San Jacinto Mountain Community Center board, Robert Priefer, board member, Kathy Wilson, Community Service Area 36 Advisory Committee member, and Opal Hellweg, legislative assistant on Washington’s staff.
Photo by JP Crumrine


A dream can be a goal, a challenge, an inspiration. But as it transforms into reality, it’s motivational and exhilarating. Idyllwild’s vision of a new and larger community center, nearly a decade old, is approaching reality.

Months ago, an informal chat between Riverside County 3rd District Supv. Chuck Washington and Janice Lyle, the San Jacinto Mountain Community Center board president, led to the involvement of Suzanne Holland, assistant director of the county’s Economic Development Agency.

Last Tuesday evening, these three, with several others, met to discuss a plan to fund the construction of Phase 2 of the Idyllwild Community Center at the Butterfield Commons on Strawberry Creek.

“The County of Riverside, Economic Development Agency, County Service Area 36 and the SJMCC board will join forces and participate in talks to create the pathway for a funding mechanism to complete the new community center,” they said the press release.

“This partnership is an exciting opportunity for the Idyllwild community to realize the dream that so many of us share. We appreciate the leadership demonstrated by Supv. Chuck Washington and are thrilled to be able to see the Idyllwild Community Center building become a reality in the near future,” said Loie and Dave Butterfield, the donors of the land and benefactors of the project.

The tentative plan would involve CSA 36 borrowing funds to construct the community center from a countywide CSA. The loan will be repaid from the CSA’s ad valorum (property tax) receipts over a seven- to 10-year period, according to Holland and Kathy Wilson, a member of the newly reconstituted CSA 36 Advisory Committee.

Phase 1, the construction of parking areas and the amphitheater, will proceed as scheduled to start this September with work completed in June 2017.

If all proceeds as hoped, the ICC construction will be completed about a year later. First, the county has to prepare paperwork and the Board of Supervisors must approve the proposal, Holland cautioned. During that time, Robert Priefer, a member of the SJMCC board, believes construction plans for Phase 2 can be completed.

“We all should get excited about something moving forward,” Washington said. “It’s in sight, and we’ll get there.”

The estimate amount from the CSA funds will be about $1.5 million and the result will be an 8,000-square-foot community center with meeting rooms, a large lobby and a kitchen. The CSA Advisory Committee will oversee the funds’ use.

“This is the goal of the community,” Holland said, which is the reason she devised the funding plan.

“I’m really encouraged that we found the creative solution to recreation on the Hill,” Lyle said later. “And so encouraged that the resources of all the players can be brought together to make this happen.”

“As a county supervisor, my job is to hear what the community wants and to help,” Washington said. With the loan funds, the reality of the ICC will not wait for the completion of fundraising from the public.

In September 2006, it was announced that a local couple — the Butterfields — bought the 5-acre site and gave it to the community. They also have been generous donors of funds for the site and construction of Phase 1.

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