TWENTYNINE PALMS — The debate over whether to include a gymnasium space in the community center which will become the centerpiece of the city’s Project Phoenix redevelopment project continued at the city council meeting Tuesday, July 23, as an October deadline loomed.
City officials are planing to build the community center on the south side of Twentynine Palms Highway between Yucca Avenue and Smoke Tree Avenue.
Plans include meeting rooms, multi-purpose rooms, a kitchen and a gift shop.
Council members and those in the audience were shown a revised floor plan for the proposed structure, in which the space that had been set aside for a gymnasium has become a multi-purpose room, which can be divided into four separate rooms, where basketball can be played.
Not satisfied with that, Jim Krushat, who said he was speaking as a private citizen and not a member of the planning commission, provided a community center design of his own, one not providing space for basketball games.
“If we could afford everything, we could have the community/conference center and a gymnasium;however we don’t have the funding for everything,” he said in a memorandum handed out during the meeting.
City Manager Frank Luckino reminded everyone that council members will need to make a final decision on the building’s basic design in October in order to keep the project on its current timeline.
Design changes made after that, he warned, will become more expensive.
“The next decision point is in October,” he said. “In October, when we come back, that’s when we have to nail it down.”
Mayor Steve Bilderain wanted to make sure local vendors got work when construction began.
“When available there will be a local vendor preference,” Luckino said.
Former Twentynine Palms High School basketball coach Larry Bowden said more gym space is needed, adding that community basketball teams face an ongoing shortage of places to practice out of the heat and cold.
“A gymnasium in downtown Twentynine Palms is stupid,” resident Vickie Waite said. She noted that neither of her two children was involved with athletics but both were involved with the arts.
“They would love to have a larger space to perform,” she said.
“I am talking economic development,” she said, adding that she wants the community center to be a draw for out of town organizations looking for meeting space.
“It still does not address the needs of the community,” Karalee Hargrove said of the revised plans. “How important is it to look at sports, sports, sports, sports?”
D.J. Garrett, the mother of Wildcat basketball players Lindsey and Taylor Scamman, urged residents to drive by Luckie Park and see the large numbers of young people using the outdoor basketball courts there to improve their skills.
She talked about Lindsey, now a West Point cadet, playing basketball at the park in all kinds of weather.
“She played basketball in the rain, she played basketball in the heat,” she said.
“I want to do more study,” Bilderain said near the end of the public hearing. “Maybe we can do a lot more than we think.”
“I want to keep the gymnasium aspect of it,” council member Joel Klink said. “I think we can have a lot more adult league go into it.”