This weekend, a motley crew of local dignitaries, dance troupes and social clubs will gather at Rengstorff Park to cut the ribbon on the city's new community space. The Mountain View Community Center reopens this Saturday, Feb. 23, following a five-year effort to expand and update the aging building for the 21st century.
As the city's primary public space for civic groups, the 60-year-old building has consistently been a popular space that is regularly booked to capacity by an assortment of local social groups, including Girl Scouts, nonprofits and fitness classes. But in recent years, the old building has been showing its age with a growing list of maintenance problems that led the city to decide it was time for a remodel.
Starting in 2014, city officials began working on upgrading the center, a project that required about $23.5 million and nearly 18 months of construction. For Recreation Manager Kristine Crosby, it was well worth it.
Leading an early tour of the newly renovated community center, Crosby could hardly contain her excitement as she waltzed through the building. It was still a construction scene, with workers bustling around and unpacked boxes and dangling wires along the hallways. Along with providing a new home for various clubs and classes, the new community center will also serve as the headquarters for the city's recreation staff. Crosby expected her team to be working late into the night to have the building ready for its grand opening.
"We expect this space is going to be very well used," she said. "We're feeling really proud of this. Our mentality is: If you build it, people will come."
The new upgrades include a 7,000-square-foot expansion and remodel of the building, but the "bones" of the original structure are still there, Crosby said. The expansion includes two new fitness and dance rooms and four multipurpose rooms, which are intended mainly for use by outside groups. At the back of the center is a new classroom for the city's preschool programs. Each room smelled factory-fresh with new furniture, audio-video equipment and other features. Throughout the building, a variety of new murals and art commissioned by the city are also on display.
The centerpiece of the new design is the "Redwood Room," a social hall with space for 250 people and an adjoining kitchen and a patio overlooking the park lawn. Crosby explained the social hall is intended for large events like weddings, banquets or corporate retreats. Even before its opening, the space is already booked for upcoming weekends, she said.
The new Mountain View Community Center is just one in a series of planned upgrades to the park. Along Rengstorff Avenue, the city completed a new traffic signal at Stanford Avenue to improve safety and provide an easier way for drivers to turn into the park. Meanwhile, a new Magical Bridge playground intended for children with disabilities is being planned at the rear of Rengstorff Park, near the tennis courts. Magical Bridge supporters are currently working to raise the $4.5 million needed to design and build the playground.
On the north side of the park, city officials also expect to remodel the aquatics center. That building is even older than the community center, and city recreation staffers say it is requiring more and more maintenance with each passing year.
The city has already convened three community meetings on redesigning the aquatics center, and formal plans for a new building are expected to be finished later this year.
The new Mountain View Community Center will have its grand opening from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23. More information about the event can be found at the city's website.