Agoura rec center goes back to the drawing board

With Forest Cove site nixed, new locations are being studied


A new recreation and senior center for Agoura Hills received a show of support from residents at a community workshop last week.

Amy Brink, director of community services, provided an overview of the services currently provided by the recreation department as well as the challenges of designing a new center to meet the long-term needs of the community. Finding an appropriate location for the new center is a top priority.

The current facility is inside church property on Thousand Oaks Boulevard, but the city’s lease will expire in 2014. Residents near Forest Cove Park complained when a study identified the park as a leading candidate for the new center.

Even if the lease weren’t coming to an end, the department’s growth would have prompted the city to find a new location for the center, Brink said.

Almost 100,000 people participate each year in programs and events sponsored by the Agoura Hills recreation department. Senior citizen membership has grown to 500 people, Brink said. Programs, classes and events are conducted at the recreation center and other venues, including schools, parks, the Reyes Adobe historical site and the Agoura Hills Civic Center.

Brink added that classes for people between the ages of 50 and 65 have “skyrocketed.” The city also needs more outdoor programs for children, and a demand for art programs has risen, she said. Community meeting rooms are also needed.

Brink said three models were worth considering. A neighborhood recreation center would be similar to the current 1,800squarefoot facility, while an activities-based center would span about 15,000 square feet. Largescale recreation centers such as the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center are generally 30,000 square feet or more.

Brink said the city envisions a 17,000squarefoot activitiesbased center similar to the Oak Park Community Center. It would have room for classrooms, conference rooms, a preschool room, dance room, a larger kitchen for catering events and other amenities.

Creative thinking

An art gallery, health club, gymnasium and cultural center were just a few of the ideas provided by residents at the workshop.

One woman liked the idea of capitalizing on outdoor recreation. She said a retractable roof and walls would bring the outdoors into the center.

Other people want more collaboration between the city and schools. At a previous meeting, Pierce College president and Agoura Hills resident Robert Garber had said he would be willing to discuss meshing college grants with city funding for a large-scale recreation and learning center.

Still others suggested teaming resources with the YMCA or Boys & Girls Club.

Another resident called for more activities for teens similar to the programs offered at the Thousand Oaks Teen Center.

A bowling alley, skate park, meditation room and a room with hightech games were also suggested by residents. A dog park and community pool are being considered, too.

Steve Finney, president of CWA Architects, said water aerobics, water polo and other water sports are some of the many “neat things” that can be done in a pool, but noted that such costs can be prohibitive.

City volunteer Randee Paller wanted to see areas where children can perform stage productions.

“You are getting us to think in different ways,” City Councilmember Dan Kuperberg told the residents.

The current recreation budget is $1.2 million, most of which is generated by program fees. The city pays $25,000 per year out of its general fund to run the recreation center. Approximately $25,000 in state grants are available.

Future workshops regardin the city’s recreation service are being planned.

City officials are seeking input from the wider community through a recreation survey. For more information, call the Agoura Hills Recreation Department at (818) 597-7361 or visit www.ci.agoura-hills.ca.us.


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