A handful of Los Altos city commissions met last week for one specific purpose – to create a preliminary wish list of programming for a new community center.
Members of the city’s Senior, Parks and Recreation, Youth and Public Arts commissions met Feb. 26 for more than two hours at Hillview Community Center, part of the ongoing 10-month effort to update plans to replace Hillview with a new community facility as outlined in the 2009 Civic Center Master Plan. Participants split into groups and prioritized programming needs for the various constituencies the new facility would serve, such as seniors, teens and children.
Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins, who attended with fellow councilwomen Jan Pepper and Val Carpenter, later told the Town Crier in an email that she was pleased with the overall process and its results.
“I thought it was a very productive meeting,” said Bruins, who noted that she’s anticipating ample participation from residents in upcoming community center public workshops. “I was quite impressed by the thoughtful consideration given by each commission group. … They really want (the new community center) to be a destination, an experience.”
Carpenter added that several overlapping priorities emerged from the session, including the desire to see a public pool facility in addition to outdoor sports facilities such as a skateboard park and fields for soccer and baseball. She called the meeting a “great start” as the city embarks on a process to determine residents’ wants and needs for a new community center.
Several commission members suggested the need for large indoor and outdoor spaces for social activities, with dinners, middle-school dances, public art and fitness classes as priorities.
“I thought that a lot of the ideas I wanted to see come out did come out,” said Carpenter, who has previously voiced her desire for the inclusion of a public pool facility. “There was a lot of consistency in what came up.”
Pepper lauded the efforts of the Youth and Public Arts commissions in particular during the meeting. Specifically, she noted that the Youth commissioners recognized the limited opportunities some seniors have for socializing, hence the need for large indoor spaces to host senior center activities. She also commended the Public Arts Commission for coloring “outside the lines” by adding programming suggestions other than the preselected options listed by city staff.
Pepper also suggested offering residents a blank-canvas approach for future public workshops on the project.
“I think we can eliminate the preselected choices … and instead provide a blank piece of paper and see what results,” Pepper emailed to the Town Crier. “We have such an educated and thoughtful community, I am confident our residents will be able to identify indoor and outdoor community center needs on their own and converge on priorities.”
The city is slated to host user-group-focused meetings March 15 and 20. Both meetings are open to the public.
In addition, the city is encouraging residents to participate in an April 5 community workshop on the community center. Times and locations of the meetings were not finalized before the Town Crier’s deadline.