The Idyllwild Community Center (ICC) committee took questions from residents and presented plans and drawings of the center as it is presently envisioned during two meetings last week.
Headed by longtime resident and Hemet Unified School District (HUSD) Trustee Bill Sanborn, the ICC committee is composed of members with many years of business expertise and residence in Idyllwild. Bill Lowman, former Idyllwild Arts president, with extensive fund-raising experience, will join the committee in January and will chair the fund-raising effort, according to Sanborn. The committee currently operates under the organizational aegis of the Idyllwild Recreational Council, but is separate and autonomous.
Robert Priefer, also on the committee, drafted the current center plans and explained the intention to construct the 18.000 square foot center in phases, depending on funds raised. Priefer stressed that the entire footprint of the center will occupy only 8 percent of the site’s nearly five acres. The buildings will be set back from the highway by a strip retained by the land donor, leaving the balance forested and green, including the section nearest the creek.
Committee member Chris Maxson presented artist renderings of component parts including a multi-purpose gymnasium, an indoor swimming pool and an exterior of the front of the center, showing an outdoor wading pool that could be used for ice-skating in the winter.
Priefer explained that the first component, Phase One, would be a 1,700 square foot facility with two activity rooms, two bathrooms, a small kitchen and storage. Its estimated cost is about $250,000 to $300,000. With another three million dollars, Phase Two would provide a lobby and gym that could also be used for dances. The lobby would be constructed to also function as a gallery. With an additional one and a half to two million dollars, Phase Three would allow construction of an indoor swimming pool. Maxson explained that the entire approach in constructing the center would be to make the component spaces flexible and have multiple uses. Parking would be appropriately constructed with each phase.
Attendees asked whether the committee was planning to raise funds for maintenance; whether an expansion of the existing County Service Area (CSA) 36 would be necessary to fund maintenance and operation; whether the issue of an ongoing revenue source would be funded prior to any construction; and whether private ownership of the site and the center would chill fundraising.
Committee member Pete Capparelli said 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone is supportive of transferring recreation program activities from Town Hall to the center once it is built. Capparelli suggested the community could consider the proposed center as a new Town Hall. “It’s my dream to make this happen,” he said. “We need a community center. Town Hall, bless its heart, can only be fixed so much. It’s in an old condition.”
Sanborn said that forming a Community Service District, which could take over recreation and retain local tax funds for center operations is also under consideration. The committee acknowledged that it is for the community to determine what it wants.
“At what point do you know if you have the community’s support?” asked Jim Taylor.
The next step in finding that community support is a “Virtual Tour” of the property at 1 p.m. on Nov. 13, replete with docents showing where each component of the center would be and actors demonstrating the potential uses of the various spaces.