Last week, before all of the excitement about Coyote Hills and the one term history of Pam Keller, the Fullerton City Council approved the conceptual plan for a new community center. This eighth wonder of the world is to be built right across the street from city hall and the main library. The existing Boys and Girls Club and the Senior Center will be demolished to make room for it.
This $23 million mostly redevelopment funded project is supposed to be necessary because half of the city’s Parks and Rec programs are farmed out to other cities, and it would be so much nicer to have them under one new roof right downtown, near the new lingerie shop. The fifty plus year old B & G Club is considered to be beyond repair and the senior center, which isn’t really that old in the grand scheme of things is somehow inadequate. OK, so neither is an architectural masterpiece, but is it really necessary to tear them both down for this new combined community center?
The idea seems to have been to somehow “activate” the corner of Commonwealth and Highland, making it more a part of the library/city hall/police station/baseball field district. To that end, the architect has included one of those pretty, and pretty useless medians down the center of Commonwealth, and a little welcoming plaza on the north side. Placing the huge double gymnasium right up against Commonwealth doesn’t do much to activate the corner, however.
The kids, seniors and everyone in between can all interact as part of one big happy community, except that they still have their own buildings, just closer together than the current ones are, for more togetherness, I guess. There is a third building they do get to share, just to teach them all a lesson. You see, it’s a “multigenerational facility”, except that not everyone wants to be so together.
Several seniors have expressed concerns about having to be so close to boisterous young people while they are busy trying to relax with people of their own age group. As far as I know, no youngsters have yet complained about having to be close to old people, but who knows if anyone asked them during the long, long planning process.
Kids enter from the Commonwealth entrance while seniors use an entrance from the larger, southern parking lot adjacent to the senior center. This arrangement makes sense if no old people have to ride the bus to get there. You see, the bus stop is way out on Commonwealth, so seniors would have to walk through crowds of kids all the way down the central axis of the project, to get to the safety of the senior center, which is closest to the railroad tracks.
A seventy-five year old man at the hearing asked why the noisy gym and swimming pool weren’t placed nearest the railroad tracks instead of a facility used by the aged. The ever helpful and certainly senior Dr. Dick Jones suggested that seniors were hard of hearing anyway before voting to approve the plan. Not to be outdone, even more senior Don Bankhead addressed a concern about the new Commonwealth median restricting bicycle traffic by asserting that it is perfectly legal to ride on the sidewalk in Fullerton —presumably right through seniors exiting a bus.