YUCCA VALLEY — More than 100 people participated in a second design workshop for the new aquatics and recreation center Thursday. The workshop was held to gather public input on both pool types and location.
The town and LPA Inc. Architects hosted the event, serving free pizza and answering dozens of community questions between 6:30 and 9 p.m. in the Yucca Valley Community Center.
The goal of the second workshop included identifying priorities and needs for recreation facilities and programs.
A $22 million grant to build the aquatics and fitness center was written into one of the propositions passed by voters on June 5.
“Twenty-two million is huge,” said Arash Izadi of LPA Inc. “It is an incredible gift.”
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.
The overwhelming choice from the public was for the center to be built near the community’s center, versus outlying areas such as Essig Park in the Sky Harbor area.
Town Manager Curtis Yakimow said officials would prefer to use land already owned by the town.
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.
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 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.”
Prior to the workshop, members of the new advisory commission for the project held a 30-minute special meeting to take their oath of office. The Town Council selected the members during a special meeting Tuesday.
The commissioners include Chairman George Huntington, Vice Chairwoman Sue Tsuda, Julie Alexander, Ben Grodjesk and Raymond Greene.
Additional representatives for 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 advisory commission 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.
“It is an accelerated project,” he added. “It is a very aggressive and tight time frame.”
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.
The current eight-week swimming program costs the town $55,000 to $65,000. Running a year-round program in a new facility could cost as much as $750,000 to $1 million, according to staff reports. The fees people pay to use the swimming pool cover a little more than half of the costs to run the summer program, according to town staff.
An average of 153 people visited the pool every day this summer, town officials said, with a total of 6,121 visits.
For more information about the project, call the community services office at (760) 369-7211.