Community Center: rehab or replace?

Council tackles Rengstorff Park plan with an eye to keep down costs

Citing tight finances and the virtues of recycling, on Tuesday City Council members expressed interest in renovating the city's 1960s-era Community Center instead of building a new one.

"The greenest thing we could do is reuse a building rather than tear it down," said council member Ronit Bryant. "Who knows what creative things could be done to make the space useable in a better way."

City staff said they would look into the option, which several council members hoped would be cheaper than the $53 million estimated cost of a new, 50-percent larger Community Center, a project in the works for over a decade and stymied by budget problems.

The discussion occurred during a study session on a new Master Plan for Rengstorff Park, which has been scaled back to avoid the potential $139 million cost of revamping the park, as shown in possible designs presented last year. Council members expressed interest in a scenario that kept the Aquatics Center and Community Center in their current locations but expands their size, and would require $3 million in temporary buildings if they are to be redeveloped where they sit.

Several council members, including Mayor Mike Kasperzak, had just finished touring the Sustainability Base at NASA Ames Research Center, touted as the greenest building around, and cited it as inspiration.

Using the "existing facility, we would get a lot of points for reuse," Kasperzak said, alluding to rating systems for green buildings. "Take a 50-year-old building make it last 100 years. Doll it up and see what we can do in a cost effective manner."

Bryant suggested adding a green roof to the building and extending a pavilion towards the street. "I'd like to do something exciting and innovative like that rather than build another building." She added that it was a matter of "finding the right person to think through this."

Council members Margaret Abe-Koga and Jac Siegel also expressed interest in refurbishing the center, but Siegel also added that "a remodel can cost a lot more per square foot than construction."

"If we stay with the existing structure it will be limiting as to what we can do," said Council member Tom Means. Having toured new community centers elsewhere, "it's pretty impressive to see what you can do these days and how they are designed," Means said.

Mayor Kasperzak said the city needs to use the new Senior Center on the other side of the park more heavily instead of closing it at night, a time when it could be used for classes taught at the Community Center.

"Space shouldn't be sitting vacant when we're talking about spending very limited resources to build new space," Kasperzak said.

There's also going to be a new Teen Center at near the park at Rock Church, which could lessen the need for a large Community Center.

A few council members expressed interest in building a new aquatics facility at Rengstorff Park first. City staff estimated the cost at $15 million.

"That's where our money should go," said council member Laura Macias. "It seems a little sad when you compare it to Eagle Park pool."

The focus should also be on making the park as nice as Cuesta Park, she said.

City staff proposed moving a small building for park rangers into a piece of open space near the picnic areas where people have often complained about gang members hanging out. Council member Macias objected to impinging on the park's open space.

"I don't think its location is very visible if we're going to have live human resources monitoring what's going on in the park," Means said of the current location.

Bryant opposed the idea of adding any parking, saying that people should be encouraged by the design to bike and walk. Adding an underground parking garage to the Community Center for 60 parking spaces could cost $4 million. Siegel suggested closing Crisanto Avenue on the northern edge of the park and building a parking structure in its place against the train tracks, providing a noise buffer that would not encroach on the park's open space.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Replace the pool with a year long swim center, build a childern pool with a water park theme, doesn't have to be a full water park, just some design elements. Skate park, this can be piece meal, maybe build a skate store so the money from the rent can be used to maintain improvements. The C.C. build is a bigger undertaking, it is old and tired, it was build in another century, we haved a city of over 70,000 people. Build one with meeting space, classrooms, a small performing art for small plays, childern theatre, movie showing, and other small events with a outdoor bowl for the same kinda of events. Have a plaza with shade and space for art shows and tables for gameplaying, see about a coffee bar that would see ice cream. Build a real nice playground, people would want to bring their kids to the park. Update the tennis center, put in a locker room, tennis club house. Start the "R" Park Friends to raise money and get companies and businesses involved.

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Posted by NeHi
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Hmmm, I'm old & tired and built in another century.

Our neighborhood is almost 60 years old and for the most part is very nice looking. The reason is upgrading and rebuilding.

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Posted by Martin Omander
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Let's save money and refurbish the existing building. Little things, like the small pavilion mentioned above could make the existing building really nice. If it's not about to fall down, I don't see why we should spend money tearing it down and building a new one. Sure, a brand new building would be nice, but so would many other things.

I agree with Bryant about not adding more parking. We should encourage other modes of transportation and we should be careful about adding structures that we have to maintain for many years to come.

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Posted by George
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm

53 million, or double that ?? What are the council members thinking.

Unless the current buildings are somehow unsafe for possible earthquakes, leave them alone.. Jeeze... paint and patch up is all that is needed... at least til the City is out of this financial slump we are in.

I can't believe that they are even considering spending those kinds of dollars.. And they cry poor mouth for hiring more cops. Where are the priorities here... Let's save some moneys.... We don't have to continue the Obama way of life... spend spend spend.

Bye George

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Posted by Ann Schneider
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 25, 2012 at 9:51 pm

As a former competitive swimmer, if the pool is rebuilt, it should be a 50 meter pool so our swimmers young and old can train for long course (the size used for Olympics, Pan American games etc.) I love Eagle pool and the feel of the walls at Rengstorff are well kink of creepy. As a professional in the zero waste field I can see building a new pool. Might even make it so water polo can be set up during short course season.

Years ago, when the city built Klein Park, they put in a basket ball hoop in the round. End result they created a huge noise and (at times a huge loitering, littering and urinating problem at Klein and for all of us living at Oaktree Commons. Oaktree Commons went to the city to ask for help, with one of our solutions the need to build more basketball courts at Rengstorff as clearly there is a need and desire. The city chose to put in that metal fence along Oaktree Dr. I guess they thought a wrought iron fence would stop the noise... now that Rengstorff plan is being considered AND since our population has grown I hope that more basketball courts are built and that they are built away from the neighboring homes. Bouncing balls make noise but so do players who can get a bit noisy as they enjoy themselves.

Please use this remodel as a chance to fix the wrongs the city committed in building Klein Park back in 1990. Consider though that bathrooms are very necessary if you build places for people to gather so you need them near the basketball courts. It will be nice in the future to walk in Klein Park and not smell human urine.

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Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 26, 2012 at 7:10 am

I am so sick of people saying "that build is old, let's throw it away."

I live in a house built in 1954. It is still in the same configuration as the day it was built. It has had a few cosmetic changes (painted, crown moulding, changed the flooring..) but it's not like I am going to tear down my house and start over just because it "was built in another century". That's just silly.

I grew up in this neighborhood. I live within walking distance of Rengstorff Park. My kids love it, as-is. The pool is fine just the way it is. How about having it open more? When I was a kid I used to live at that pool in the summer. Now it's only open for a few hours a day in the summer.

As far as the community center. I can't say I've really seen it packed so full of people that we need to expand it. There is an existing stage that I have only seen used maybe 10 times in the 40 years I've lived here. My kids have taken a few classes there. The rooms do exactly what they are supposed to do.

Let's save the money.

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Cuesta area has been always pretty much kept up, the people there have taken pride in their homes. A 60 year old home might have been updated a few times, sinks, kitchen carpets and etc. This building was built in the 60's, might work but lets open the walls and see what we find, see what it will cost, to remodel vs to replace. We are only looking, it would be nice to see what options lay ahead in the future. On building design, we don't need to build a big major palace, a building that has restrooms, space for meetings and classes, kitchen, if you build right next to the pool, you can cover the roof in solar panels, don't need such a huge parking lot. Cuesta Park was to have a pool, conmmuntiy and rec center. Part of the Annex was supposed to be a branch Library. When is the south of ECR are to get upgrades

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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