La Jolla Rec Council seeks new board members, readies for Rec Center’s centennial

Children take tennis lessons at the La Jolla Rec Center, 1953. Courtesy La Jolla Historical Society

La Jolla Rec Center
Where: 615 Prospect St., La Jolla
Hours: Mondays 9 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., Tuesdays-Thursdays 9 a.m. to 7:45 p.m., Fridays 9 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. (Closed Sundays)
Info: (858) 552-1658

Join the Rec Council
Contact: Doug Fitzgerald, (310) 383-6633
Next meeting: 5 p.m. May 22

Cinco De Mayo Senior Dance
Where: Rec Center Auditorium
When: 5:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, May 3
What: Dinner, punch, coffee, dessert, live music
Cost: $10 per person (ages 55 and up)

The La Jolla recreation center at 615 Prospect St. was built and designed in 1915 by master architect Irving Gill, through money and land donated by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps. Courtesy of La Jolla Historical Society

By Pat Sherman

For nearly 100 years, the La Jolla Recreation Center has served as the heart and hub of the Village, offering everything from sports programs and fitness facilities

to self-improvement courses and meeting rooms where groups advising the city on important issues — from development to park and beach upkeep — conduct monthly meetings.

Now, the nonprofit board that makes decisions on how the city-owned rec center’s funds are spent is gearing up for the center’s 100th anniversary, and is in need of new members to help make decisions about the facilities, its programming and future.

“It’s a pretty vital place,” La Jolla Recreation Council (LJRC) board chair Doug Fitzgerald said. “It’s like the traditional, good old rec center. Nobody thinks about the workings … it just goes on and on.”

The nonprofit LJRC has about eight members, though it may have as many as 15. Prospective members must live in La Jolla or own a business here, and attend three monthly meetings prior to joining. Meetings are held the fourth Wednesday of each month at 5 p.m. in the Rec Center auditorium.

Philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps tours the Rec Center’s billiards room during the grand opening in 1915.

“What we’d really like to get are the parents of children who use the Rec Center,” said LJRC treasurer Hobe Schroeder. “We don’t currently have any parents of young children on our board, so we would love to get their input.”

Fitzgerald said he also welcomes new members. “The influx is always great for new ideas,” he said.

The Rec Center was built and designed in 1915 by master architect Irving Gill, through money and land donated by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps. It was dedicated that same year to the City of San Diego for the children of La Jolla, and is today designated as a local historical landmark.

Fitzgerald said the board is already beginning to plan for the center’s 100th anniversary celebration, on July 3, 2015. In the meantime, the board is seeking donations of money and/or labor to help spruce up the center.

“We’re planning on a pretty big celebration on that day,” Fitzgerald said. “Our job really is to maintain the center and make sure that property stays in shape for the next 100 years and beyond.”

Schroeder was recruited by the late George “Walt” Hall to join the LJRC board nearly 15 years ago. Hall’s fundraising prowess put money in the Rec Center coffers for things such as last year’s historically accurate renovation of concrete pillars that line the athletic grounds.

“He was an unbelievable guy — the quintessential fundraiser,” Schroeder said of Hall, who passed away in March after moving to Oregon years ago. “Because of him we still have so much money in our kitty — and we’re really indebted to his service.”

La Jolla Rec Council’s Treasurer Hobe Schroeder and board Chair Doug Fitzgerald invite prospective board members to attend the next council meeting, 5 p.m. May 22. File

The Rec Center relies on donations and some funding, including a $25,000 annual grant from the Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation, which is usually spent on major repairs and youth programming.

However, the Rec Center will need money to completely repaint the exterior prior to the centennial, Fitzgerald said.

Since its inception nearly 100 years ago, the La Jolla Rec Center has been a place for youth and adults to gather, celebrate and recreate. Courtesy La Jolla Historical Society

“We’re already trying to get bids on it now,” he said, adding that the center also needs new flooring. “We’ve got tile in the main room from 1950. … Hopefully, we get help from the City of San Diego, but the city doesn’t really have a lot of money.”

The LJRC also makes decisions about the permitted use of several parks, including Cliffridge Park and Allen Field.

Fitzgerald said meetings usually last only an hour. “We do it quickly and succinctly; we don’t spend hours talking,” he said. “People’s time is valuable.”

Schroeder said his time on the board has afforded him a way to give back to the community and make a difference in the lives of local youth.

“I feel these kids are our future, so it was a great opportunity for me and I’m still doing it,” he said. “We’re one of the very few rec centers in the whole city of San Diego that keeps morning hours, because we buy 15 hours per week from the city.”

Related posts:

  1. La Jollans attend vigil for Irving Gill’s ‘Windemere’
  2. Preservationists fearful about the fate of La Jolla post office mural
  3. La Jolla’s beach cottages: An issue of integrity
  4. Postal Work
  5. Cars take center stage at La Jolla Motor Car Classic

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Posted by Pat Sherman on May 1, 2013. Filed under Featured Story, La Jolla, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

2 Comments for “La Jolla Rec Council seeks new board members, readies for Rec Center’s centennial”

  1. Erik Hanson

    The main room should probably not be tiled at all, just stained concrete as Mr. Gill and Miss Scripps intended. I hope they can just restore it the way it should be. I’m happy to help chip off the 50s tile. Please engage the services of a qualified historic specialist when considering work like this.

    • Doug Fitzgerald

      Erik: Thanks for your input….I will bring your comments to the Council….Please note that when any major renovation is undertaken at the Rec Center, appropriate historical consultants are used…Thanks…Doug Fitzgerald,President, La Jolla Parks and Rec, Inc…..

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