Architects dive into the details to create the aquatics and recreation center

Arash Izadi, director of sport at the town's contracted architectural firm, gives a presentation during a public workshop on the new recreation center.

YUCCA VALLEY — In the coming months the team planning the town’s aquatics and recreation center will be at work determining the costs to build and maintain the new facility.

The aquatics and recreation center team includes LPA Inc. Architects, a new project advisory commission and town staff.

The Town Council will get the finalized reports later this year for review and final approval.

Members of the public gave their input at two community workshops held in June and July. More than 100 people attended the second design workshop on July 25. The workshop aimed to gather public input on both pool types and location.

A $22 million grant to build an aquatics and fitness center was written into one of the bond measures passed by voters on June 5, 2018.

“Twenty-two million is huge,” said Arash Izadi, director of sport and recreation at LPA Inc. “It is an incredible gift.”

The goal of the second workshop included identifying priorities and needs for recreation facilities and programs.

“It’s a puzzle and our job is to piece it all together,” Izadi said.

Workshop exercises helped gauge the public’s top choices in pool design, indoor or outdoor options and gymnasium features along with where the ideal location would be for the project.

Izadi and his LPA Inc. team including senior project manager John Courtney and senior project designer Jeff Schaub navigated every detail during the July 25 workshop.

“We’ve reached out to a lot of people,” Izadi said of the community research. “After this workshop we’re going to spend some time behind the scenes.”

Town Manager Curtis Yakimow said officials would prefer to use land already owned by the town to save money and time.

“It is an accelerated project,” Yakimow said on July 25. “It is a very aggressive and tight time frame.”

Two sites getting the closest looks are Brehm Park and the Yucca Valley Community Center. The site’s groundbreaking is tentatively scheduled for fiscal year 2020-21.

Community Services Manager Sue Earnest is the lead on the project for the town government.

“She will be running this project from start to finish,” Yakimow said.

He hopes to have a new public works director on board by early August to assist with the project, too.

The top design choice so far is a hybrid indoor pool plan offering both recreation and other types of swimming activities. A lap swim pool followed as the second choice.

Many workshop participants said the harsh weather of the Morongo Basin requires an indoor facility.

Yakimow said he is also keeping an eye on the financial bottom line.

“Just because you built something doesn’t mean you can take care of it,” he said prior to the workshop. “It has to be sustainable for the community.”

The Town Council selected the members of the new project advisory commission July 23. The appointees are Chairman George Huntington, Vice Chairwoman Sue Tsuda, Julie Alexander, Ben Grodjesk and Raymond Greene.

“This is my community and I like to see positive things happening,” Alexander said.

Tsuda shared during the meeting that she and all her children are swimmers.

“It’s been a passion for most of my life,” said Tsuda, who served as the town’s first manager.

Additional representatives on the commission are Matthew Rauch from the parks, recreation and cultural commission, Margie Trandem from the planning commission and Stephen Goddard and Kimberly Balch from the youth commission.

The commissioners will meet about six times while working closely with the LPA architects to help navigate the choices for the new pool and recreation center. The group’s work should be concluded by the end of the year, Yakimow said.

The town currently uses Yucca Valley High School’s swimming pool for its summer programs and rents gym space at Evangelical Free Church and the Boys & Girls Club to run its youth basketball programs.

“The town spends thousands of dollars renting gym space,” Earnest said.

For information on the project, call the community services office at (760) 369-7211.

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