The Idyllwild Community Park is active every week, especially during the summer with a weekly concert series. With the playground, par course, pickle ball court and paths, the site provides opportunities to the community and visitors year round.
More is coming and the Idyllwild Community Center board will soon be announcing the next step, “Let’s build it.”
“I’m excited. We’re making steady progress,” said Janice Lyle, board chair. “We’re ready for the next visible activities. This is a big project for the community. Big in what it can do and big in what it will contribute — a gathering place in the middle of town.”
As promised in 2008, when Dave and Loie Butterfield donated the 5-acre site along Highway 243 and Ridgeview Drive for a community center, the years of careful and conscientious planning will evolve into groundbreaking next spring and construction will follow.
Chris Trout, advisor to the board for marketing, said these years have resulted in a thorough and comprehensive planning process. “We’ve gone through plans W to Z already. We’ve sought to balance cost without sacrificing the beauty of the site and the Idyllwild style. This is an aspirational place and we want the building to meet these aspirations.”
The first step is the presence of the Village Kiosk in the center of town near “Harmony,” the town monument. Every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., members of the ICC committee will be there to describe the plans for 2016 and continue to raise funds for the center’s construction.
The goal is $3.5 million, of which more than $2.3 million has already been raised — $2 million from the Butterfields. In addition, 58 local businesses have donated money, services or other in-kind contributions for the “Helping Hand” flag that waves outside of their doors. “This was really successful,” Lyle said “People really stepped up to the opportunity to fly the flag.” Nearly 400 individuals have already contributed in some way and their names are the background in the ICC advertisement on the back page of this week’s Town Crier.
One of the fundraising projects is a “Photo Mosaic Mural” that will be a permanent addition to the completed center. Individuals may visit the Village Kiosk and, for $25, have a “selfie” taken, which will become part of the permanent Photo Mosiac. A poster also will be given to those who are photographed.
This year’s activities have focused on obtaining Riverside County’s approval for the site use and the building plans. Jim Marsh, the architect, and Robert Priefer have ushered and guided the plans through this process. Many departments, such as fire, Parks and Recreation, Flood Control and Caltrans, have already granted their approval.
Others have requested some additional information or studies, such as an archaeological study, biological assessment, greenhouse gas analysis, tree study, air quality report and an acoustical study. These are being done or are under review.
The committee has also worked with Fairway Market to receive an easement to cross a corner of its property. This will make the access from Village Center Drive to the upper portion of the ICC property easier and safer.
“We hope for county approval by the end of the year or January,” Lyle said, “and are prepared to start ground-breaking for Phase 1 next spring.”
The site development work — parking and walkways — is planned for spring 2016. Construction of an outdoor amphitheater for musical and theater events will follow.
Included in this first phase of the building will be the Butterfield Family Center, a multi-use facility for activities and programs that serves the needs and interests of the Hill. When constructed, the site and building will offer access and activities to people who come here.
While the future will bring a physical presence to the site, Lyle stressed that the present is already quite busy. “The organization and management of the site is a challenge. You can’t imagine what it takes to simply manage what’s going on now — weddings, concerts, Red Cross, rattlesnake training, yoga — something going on all the time.
“Our most significant challenge today is to raise the money necessary to fulfill our mission,” said Lyle. Besides the Photo Mosaic, the committee is planning fundraisers this fall. The first will be Saturday, Sept. 19 at Ferro. More information about this event will come shortly.
“We’re looking to encourage support from the entire community. We appreciate every donation, whether $5 or more. We hope everyone will give at the capacity that is their ability,” Lyle added. “We need to tap into people who care about this community whether here or elsewhere.”
Joining the ICC volunteers at the kiosk, initially will be representatives of Idyllwild Arts Academy, the Art Alliance of Idyllwild and the Stratford Players. Trout explained that the idea originated during breakfast coffee at the Town Baker. “While sitting in back, a family from Los Angeles asked, ‘What’s there to do here for three days?’” In the spring, ICC hopes to offer time at the Kiosk to other nonprofit groups.
A new website, idyllwildcommunitycenter.org, was launched Aug. 8 to provide more information and the capability to contribute to the Community Center’s construction.