By Stephanie Yost, Idyllwild Community Center board president

Idyllwild Community Center (ICC) is revising the scope of its building plans for the new recreation center complex slated for location on its property that currently houses the Idyllwild Community Playground and Butterfield Amphitheater. 

Rather than continue to seek funding to build a large community center building (designated as Phase II in its original plans), ICC will refocus its fundraising and construction efforts on the gymnasium (Phase III in its original plans) with some significant modifications. 

The new gymnasium, or “gymnasium plus” as ICC is calling it, will be a fully functional gym (full-size indoor basketball court, accordion bleachers, etc.) with public restrooms, as well as locker rooms and shower facilities for sports and other events (such as school dances, private rentals, etc.). 

It will also include a small commercial kitchen (similar to what is outside at Town Hall), outdoor permanent restrooms (to replace the portable toilet at the playground), a ticket booth/small office area and a meeting/activities room. 

The area outside of the gym will include a full-size basketball court and likely other recreational equipment, in addition to the reconstructed Parcourse.

Two recent events have prompted ICC’s change in direction: the purchase and renovation of Town Hall for ICC’s use and the very recent news that ICC did not receive the large California Parks and Recreation grant it applied for last August. 

At the time that ICC submitted its grant application, Town Hall needed a tremendous amount of work and was listed for sale by its owner. Now that Town Hall is off the market, being completely renovated, and will be available to ICC for its community programs and events, ICC has reassessed the need for the new building.    

ICC believes that the renovated Town Hall, together with the “gymnasium plus,” will be more than sufficient for all current and anticipated programs and events as the new gymnasium will provide year-round public sports and meeting room opportunities for kids, teens, and adults, which are very much needed in Idyllwild. 

The new structure will also serve as a community meeting hall, as well as a safe haven in the event of an emergency, as it will have a generator.

Significantly, this plan will allow ICC to reallocate more than $10,000 per year of the CSA 36 funds it currently receives toward more community programs, as ICC will no longer have to use that money to rent gym space for its sports programs and a portable toilet for the Community Playground. 

In terms of the cost, building only the “gymnasium plus” will be far less expensive than what was originally planned, and thus, easier to fund. The cost of the Phase II building has been estimated at $4.5 million with several million more needed to build the Phase III gym. Very preliminary research indicates that the “gymnasium plus” could be built for $2 million to $3.5 million, depending in part upon the placement of the building and required grading. 

ICC believes the “gymnasium plus” will be much faster to complete, too.

ICC is reaching out to the county to modify the description and timeline on the Community Development Block Grant that ICC currently has, which will pay for a significant portion of the “gymnasium plus” project. 

ICC is also looking into other grant opportunities to fund the balance of the project in addition to the donations that ICC is still holding from its previous community fundraising efforts.