La Jolla Rec Center receives $20K from Scripps Foundation


La Jolla’s Park & Rec (LJPR) advisory board took a break from discussing the La Jolla Rec Center playground renovation (for now) to talk about programming and Rec Center offerings, during its June 28 meeting. The board received a $20,000 grant from the Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation to “maintain the physical plant and extend the current programs,” and with such, discussed ways to improve upon its programming.

That said, this fall, the La Jolla Rec Center playground renovation will be re-addressed, and at least three sets of renderings will be presented for community review. The board will also vote at its August meeting on whether a skate park is feasible for the La Jolla Rec Center .

Of the $20,000 grant, acting LJPR chair Mary Coakley Munk told La Jolla Light, “We are so fortunate to have (Scripps Foundation) continue to support the Rec Council and the Rec Center.

“We value our partnership with the Scripps Family tremendously.

“We’re extremely happy, honored and pleased that they continue to support what we’re trying to do for the community.”

In the grant application, she wrote that the funds could be used for “the continuation and expansion of our programs, ongoing maintenance and the much needed renovation of the playground, basketball courts and physical plant.”

She added, “We have a championship team and we are moving forward with renewed energy and determination to make the La Jolla Recreation Center a jewel for our community with expanded programs and much improved facilities.”

At the meeting, Coakley Munk said, “I think by the end of this year, we should have some new and exciting programs to show that we are making headway.”

The board also discussed the current offerings and whether some should be changed, the pay structure revisited and/or “modernized.”

The summer programming (much of which has a user-fee) includes children’s sports, music lessons, cooking classes, different yoga and Tai Chi programs, community events and more.

However, many of the children’s events have fewer than 10 signed up (as of the June meeting). La Jolla Rec Center Director Nicole Otjens reported that the “Kick It Tuesdays” class has six children enrolled, and the newly added gymnastics program only has one child enrolled.

“It sounds to me like there aren’t more than 15-20 in all the programs we offer all summer and that is really frightening. I don’t know whether we need to change the programs we offer, because if we offer a good program, they will come. I think that should be one of our major concerns,” Coakley Munk said.

Otjens said the only classes that are consistently doing well (with around 20 regular attendees) are the free exercise classes such as Tai Chi, certain yoga classes and Pilates. For these classes, the teachers donate their services.

To get better activities, Coakley Munk suggested using the Scripps grant to pay instructors, so they would not need to charge participants, and could offer the classes for free.

“We need to get the kids here one way or another, and this grant could really help with that,” she said.

Although there has not been a groundswell of suggestions for any one type of programming, parents with ideas can e-mail Coakley Munk:

Coincidentally, a new dance and Zumba program was introduced and approved at the June meeting.

Applicant Jennie Bryant, who currently offers classes at another area Rec Center, said, “I wanted to propose a dance program to hopefully solve the problem you are having.

“We would offer a creative expressions class for preschoolers with a little bit from multiple genres of dance; a hip-hop class; afterschool classes for elementary age; and Zumba for those 15 and older.”

With the approval, classes will begin in the fall and be offered twice a week, and cost $55 a month.

Otjens said the dance students could put on performances at other Rec Center events such as the Halloween Carnival and the Holiday Festival associated with the La Jolla Christmas Parade.

Several board members said they were “excited” for the proposal and unanimously supported it.

The board also discussed modernizing the planned Senior Luau dinner/dance, on the books for Aug. 11, by way of swapping the band for a DJ and changing the catering company.

In other Rec Center news:

Meeting postponed: Because several board members will be out of town in July, the board’s next monthly meeting is canceled. The additional month, Coakley Munk said, “will give us time to work on different plans for the playground.”

Playground proposals : This fall, the board will present renderings for the playground renovation.

Coakley Munk told the Light, “The plan is to have three or four layouts by our August or September meeting.

“The layouts have not been finalized, but will include (the playground) as is; moving the basketball courts to the tot lot area; moving the basketball courts to the bigger kids’ playground area; and maybe one or two more alternatives.”

Skate park vote: After hearing a controversial proposal to add a skate plaza to the playground, the board scheduled a vote on its feasibility for the June meeting. However, proponents of the proposal were not able to attend, so the vote will be taken in August.

Coakley Munk said those who oppose the project could speak at the August meeting to ensure the board is informed of all sides of the issue before it votes.

La Jolla’s Park & Rec board next meets 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 23 at La Jolla Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St. For more information , visit