Chad Taylor (center, standing), of Idyllwild, is sworn in as the newest member of the County Service Area 36 Advisory Committee. Opal Hellweg (left), legislative assistant for 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington, administered the oath of office. Accompanying Taylor were his wife and children. In the back are Advisory Committee members David Hunt and Committee Chair John Metroka Jr. Photo by J P Crumrine

Summer concerts at new amphitheater beginning July 11

The County Service Area 36 Advisory Committee met last Thursday, April 18. The major portion of the meeting was Janice Lyle’s presentation on the status of Phase 1 construction on the Idyllwild Community Center site and Bob Lewis’ discussion of current recreation activities and expectations for spring and summer.

Lyle is president of the San Jacinto Mountain Community Center Board and Lewis is the director of the ICC (also the SJMCC) recreation program,

The Valentine’s Day rainstorm did some damage to the ICC site. Mud and snow delayed some of the construction. Lyle described chronologically the problems and completions through mid-April.

She concluded with the announcement that the ICC board expects construction of the amphitheater to be completed in June. The Idyllwild Summer Concert Series will inaugurate the facility on July 11.

Founder and producer of the ISCS Ken Dahleen said in an email, “An eight week schedule is booked, and we’ll kick off on July 11 with a 20th anniversary celebration. Final details are in planning. We will be in the new amphitheater, and I'm excited about it.”

Groundbreaking for the new site and amphitheater was May 26, 2018. Work began in early July. The parking area in front of the playground was first, but footings for the amphitheater were installed in early November 2018.

The pavement and parking area were nearly installed in January. On Feb. 11, three days before the torrential storm, the steel girders for the amphitheater were erected.

After Feb. 14, it took weeks before work could continue. During the interim, construction teams had to deal with moving mud and patiently waiting for the ground to dry and return to stability.

By early April, the driveway asphalt was down, parking curbs installed and parking spaces striped. Last week, the interior walls of the theater began being installed.

“The amphitheater is moving forward and we hope to have it completed by the beginning of June,” Lyle said. She described the summer use as a “soft opening,” and a formal celebration will be this fall, likely in October.

Several people attending the meeting questioned when the playground would reopen. Lyle mentioned that work on the amphitheater is continuing, and the county would like some drainage work done on the upper western portion of site as a result of the storms.

“As long as our general contractor is working on site, we, unfortunately, cannot reopen the playground because it is simply not safe,” she stressed. “But, fingers crossed, it will reopen in early June, and we look forward to welcoming the community's children back to the playground.”

When it does open, Lyle said ICC has had the equipment refurbished.

Besides the damage to the ICC site, the board and Lewis have had to respond to significant water damage to Town Hall from the Valentine’s Day storm. The basement was flooded and incurred damage.

Lewis reported that ICC has received clearance that lead and asbestos have been removed and the area is clear. Within the next week, he hopes to have inspections completed for mold.

As a result of this damage, the kindergarten program was moved to the main floor, and other programs have had to share time.

“We lost half the building,” he said. “During Jazzercise, we bring the kids outside. It’s been a juggling act, but we’re making it happen.”

Besides the loss of some rental income, the ICC insurance paid nearly $27,000 for the basement work.

Another impact of the storm was damage to the Idyllwild School athletic field. Besides canceling the school’s softball season, it is unavailable for ICC’s youth baseball season.

However, ICC baseball has not been canceled. Lewis made arrangements to use fields at Camp Maranatha. He also arranged to have the field graded to increase safety of its use. 

So the local season will continue and starts in a few weeks. The deadline for registration for the season is April 26.

Lewis added that conversations with Idyllwild School Principal Matt Kraemer make him hopeful that the school field will be restored by July, and adult softball can still use this facility for its 2019 season.

As a consequence of the effects of the Valentine’s Day storm on the ICC programs as well as its possible sale in the future, Lyle said the board is examining how to deliver these programs in the future. 

“This is a moment when a number of possibilities for increasing our connection with the community are being evaluated,” she shared. “ I hope to be able to report out the results at the next meeting in July.”

Lewis announced that other future recreation events include ping pong at Town Hall beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 9. Also in the planning is a celebration for the late Ron Perry on Saturday, May 11 at the pickleball courts at Idyllwild Pines Camp. And the first quinceañera will be held at Town Hall this month.

Opal Helweg, from Riverside County 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington’s staff, attended the meeting. She shared that the county Economic Development Agency has been working hard to promote Idyllwild, its events and location during the highway closures.

TourIdyllwild is available on Facebook and Twitter. Also, six billboards on local interstates will be promoting Idyllwild shortly.