Micaiah Furukawa nails a big-air ollie in front of the Goleta Valley Community Center.
Paul Wellman

The City of Goleta is asking residents this question: What would you like to see the Goleta Valley Community Center being used as?

The question comes up because the city is considering moving its offices to the property where the Community Center is located. City Hall’s present accommodations cost approximately $400,000 in rent per year — no wonder they are looking for a more fiscally responsible alternative.

Silvia Uribe

The Community Center building was built around 1926-1927, according to city officials. To put things into context, this was around the same period when aviation pioneers started to land and take off in The Good Land — at the present Santa Barbara Municipal Airport. The building served as a school from 1927-1976, and in 1977, it was renovated and dedicated to the community on a 10-year lease. In 1984 the county sublet the property to the Community Center Board of Directors. However, at the end of 2014, the city will have the option to buy this property. An adjacent lot could potentially be bought to make the property larger and perfect to accommodate the 30,000 square feet that City Hall needs for its present and future demands.

The city has hired a consultant to conduct a study on the viability of the project. Two workshops were conducted on February 19 to elicit information from the public about their needs and wants for this iconic building.

After talking with some of my neighbors about this at a social gathering, some things were really clear. First and foremost, every person agreed that there is no other building that is more representative of Goleta than the Community Center building. For this reason, it would very much deserve to be preserved and remodeled to bring it to 21st-century standards. There was also a consensus on the fact that the building should continue to promote community and be enjoyed by the community. The adjacent lot could be used to build a new building to house City Hall. Parking could remain between the two buildings and be shared by both.

The remodeled Community Center should keep its architectural style, but it should have all the modern amenities. With some style-appropriate paint inside and out, new flooring, and new bathrooms, plus an AC and heating system, the building could regain its “personality” and warmth. It should offer needed services that are otherwise hard to find in Goleta, like meeting spaces equipped with all sorts of bells and whistles, such as projector, Wi-Fi, computer connections, teleconferencing capabilities, comfortable chairs, etc., to be rented out, at affordable rates, on a first-come, first-served basis, producing some extra income, and helping this building to be sustainable.

We all know that art is widely encouraged in our community. With two high schools and several grade schools located in Goleta, we should have enough art to hang from the walls, as exhibits, and maybe as fundraising pieces for children’s programs. People described this building as one with “a life of its own.” It was suggested that there should be a program of sorts that could be distributed in the community (in newspaper stands, for example), letting residents know about all that the Community Center has to offer and proactively inviting residents to participate in specific activities.

The gazebo on the front of the building is another important point that got people’s attention. The general sentiment is that access by car should not exist in front of the building. Instead, the front should be converted into a plaza, where the gazebo is the center stage, and it should be promoted and open to musical bands any time, scheduled at a nominal price, on a first-come, first-served basis, as well. An artistic, attractive, style-matching fence around the plaza would become a necessity, since this plaza would face busy Hollister Avenue; otherwise, it would not be safe for children. Plants and benches should be all around to create an inviting environment for families to hang out, listen to the music played by the bands, and be safe in the heart of their community.

This group strongly felt that the idea is to promote community in Old Town and that this project may very well be the first step in reaching the goal of a revitalized, thriving Old Town.

The city is very interested in hearing your input. Please contact Claudia Dato at 961-7554 or cdato@cityofgoleta.org.


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