What a special moment for Los Altos! We did it! Los Altos has a brand-new community center. Thanks to everyone who was able to join us virtually or in person for the ribbon-cutting celebration Saturday.
As I reflect on what we have all gone through these past 18 months, opening our new community center could not have come at a better time, as it gives us something to celebrate as a community.
There is also a lot to reflect on when we think about how much work was involved in getting us to this point. As someone said to me at the ceremony, the Los Altos Community Center was decades in the making. In my much younger days, I ran 50-meter, 100-meter and relay races, and I think the process that led up to today is very similar to a relay race. The different city councils, city staff and community members involved all ran a leg in the relay race and are part of Team Los Altos Community Center.
There are many who believe that the first and last legs of a relay are the most important and that is where you put your fastest runners, but as my track and field coach would tell us, every leg is important – and that is exactly what we saw with this process. Although the city councils that ran the first and second legs may not have been in the lead for their part of the race, they kept the baton moving forward by exploring different designs, locations and funding sources.
The city council that ran the third leg of the race, however, was key. When they handed the baton to this current city council, they were in the lead. Four of those council members are no longer on the council – Mayor Jeannie Bruins, Mayor Jean Mordo, Mayor Jan Pepper and Mayor Mary Prochnow. They held many meetings, created a task force, approved the engineers and architects, identified a budget and held more meetings. I still remember sitting in some of those meetings as a resident listening to the public comments, some in favor, some against, and that city council would listen, discuss the feedback and make changes as they saw fit, but they never wavered in their commitment to getting a community center for Los Altos. A big thank you to that city council, because they made the task of this current council running the anchor or last leg of the relay much easier to bring it across the finish line.
There are so many other individuals to thank: Thanks to all the residents who showed up to these meetings, because your comments helped to shape the project. Thanks to city staff for all their work and for showing up to meetings time and time again to answer the council’s questions. Thanks to Claudia Coleman and the other Community Center Task Force Members for managing a very challenging process of getting a well-vetted proposal to the city council. Thanks to all the city commissions that gave feedback, and special thanks to the Public Arts Commission for working closely with city staff to select the artwork from local artist Linda Gass and Morgan Bricca that is displayed in the community center.
Thanks to the local Muwekma Ohlone tribe for sharing in the celebration with a special blessing ritual recognizing that their ancestors used the land where the new community center is located.
And finally, thanks to the entire Los Altos community. This community center is a symbol of collaboration, resilience and perseverance. It represents what we can achieve as a community. It is a place for us to gather, engage and socialize. Most importantly, it is your community center; please use it and enjoy it.
Neysa Fligor is mayor of Los Altos.