La Jolla Recreation Center director asks advisory group to do heavy lifting for new weight room floor

The floor of the La Jolla Recreation Center weight room needs replacing, the center's director says.
(Nicholas Volpe)

Citing safety concerns, La Jolla Recreation Center director Nicholas Volpe asked the La Jolla Community Recreation Group, the center’s advisory board, to assist with funding a new weight room floor.

During the CRG’s virtual meeting Jan. 26, Volpe, who started as Recreation Center director in November, said the current floor “is just old, worn, torn up, [with] holes in it.”

Nicholas Volpe has returned to his recreational roots in La Jolla, taking on the role of Recreation Center director this month.

He asked the group to request funding from the nonprofit Friends of La Jolla Recreation Center to replace the floor, which consists of padded rubber mats laid on top of LVT, or vinyl tile. The LVT needs to be taken out to lay new flooring, Volpe said.

He said he has received an estimate of $8,500 to replace the floor. That includes Rec Center staff pitching in some of the labor.

The center’s budget includes a small fund for the weight room. Volpe said that money is currently in use to repair broken gym equipment.

“We’ve had a lot more people start utilizing the gym ever since we started cleaning it on a weekly basis,” Volpe said.

He said the Rec Center charges $90 for a year’s membership to use the fitness equipment — much less than other area gyms.

“If we had a new floor and if we had two or three multi-functioning pieces of equipment, it would not only open up the space and make it accessible for everybody but prevent people from just tripping over each other,” Volpe said.

CRG member Jill Peters wondered if a cheaper alternative could be explored since the CRG’s Visioning Committee plans to improve the gym within a few years as part of a larger Rec Center renovation.

The plans, which include a new playground and an overhaul of the grounds, would move the gym to the basement, according to architect and Visioning Committee member Trace Wilson. The basement would be connected with the lawn via a “large exterior stair.”

The weight room floor is old and worn in several places, says La Jolla Recreation Center director Nicholas Volpe.
(Nicholas Volpe)

Wilson said he understands that Volpe wants to make the Rec Center “usable right now,” but added that “as we invest in this building incrementally, we want to make sure that we’re not wasting money.”

He asked if there’s a way to scrape the LVT to the concrete and polish the concrete.

Volpe responded that dropping heavy weights onto concrete poses a danger and said new flooring could be saved and relaid in the upgraded Rec Center.

Wilson and Peters invited Volpe to meet with the Visioning Committee to offer input on Rec Center improvements.

Noting that the center reported about $30,000 in leftover money in October, CRG member Jan Harris said, “I don’t know why [the Rec Center] can’t spend some on the weight room.”

San Diego Parks & Recreation Department area manager Rosalia Castruita said many of the city’s recreation centers, including La Jolla, have generated little money in the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CRG member Alan Dulgeroff noted that Friends of La Jolla Recreation Center spent about $23,000 on the facility’s temporary bocce court, “a pretty sizable investment. … The floor is a much smaller amount.”

“I think it’s good to listen to [Rec Center] staff and their needs,” Dulgeroff added.

The bocce court surface also needs repairs, CRG Chairwoman Mary Coakley Munk and others said at the meeting.

However, the popularity may be causing a problem with access, leading to discussion of a possible reservation system.

As for the weight room floor, Coakley Munk said that as a safety issue, the Parks & Recreation Department should bear some of the cost. She added that she’d like Friends of La Jolla Recreation Center to “figure out how we can work together to use funds available.”

CRG member Gail Forbes said that “if it’s a safety issue, the city should probably step in right away and repair it. It’s a liability.”

Forbes asked if the CRG also could help redirect the request to private donors. Coakley Munk echoed the thought, saying the group “is very much hoping someone might be interested in donating for the exercise room.”

The CRG agreed to formally act on the matter at a future meeting.

Castruita said the floor is one of many projects Volpe has taken on since becoming director, with a “vision to create a more presentable and efficient weight room.”

He also has cleaned out several areas, provided new lockers and requested a new refrigerator and other items that need replacing, she said, adding that small projects are funded by the department’s budget.

“We actually turned the art room back into an art room; it’s no longer just storage,” Volpe said. “We cleared out our storage room, so now it’s safer for people to go in.

“My goal here is to bring all ... individuals and their families … to the Rec Center.” ◆