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La Jolla recreation group OKs buying updated weight room equipment for Rec Center

The La Jolla Community Recreation Group meets May 25 online.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The CRG also sees new renderings for the planned Recreation Center renovation and gets an update on fundraising plans.

The La Jolla Community Recreation Group, the advisory board for the La Jolla Recreation Center, supported the purchase of updated weight room equipment for the center at its virtual meeting May 25.

The request, approved unanimously, now will be forwarded to the San Diego Parks & Recreation Department for approval.

The vote followed recent efforts by Rec Center Director Nicholas Volpe to replace the weight room’s deteriorating floor and repaint the walls.

Both the floor replacement and painting are in progress, said Rosalia Castruita, area manager for the Parks & Recreation Department.

Once that work is complete, Volpe would buy updated equipment for the weight room, including a treadmill, an elliptical machine, a multi press and leg extension machine and weights, Castruita said.

“All of these items are used but they are commercial-grade,” Castruita said. “They have very few blemishes and are in very good working order.”

The items will cost $9,751, Castruita said. The Rec Center fund has only about $4,000 left for this fiscal year to spend on the equipment.

Castruita asked the CRG board to approve spending the remainder of the cost from the Rec Center reserve fund, which currently contains $34,949. The board OKd that as part of its vote to support the purchase.

Use of the reserve money requires CRG and Parks & Rec approval, Castruita said.

She said Volpe expects more revenue to come in from weight room users once the upgrade is finished.

The updated items will “make the weight room not only aesthetically look better but also be … more up to date compared to what we had for decades,” she said.

Other CRG news

A rendering depicts plans to revamp the La Jolla Recreation Center auditorium.
(Courtesy of Trace Wilson)

Renovation plans: La Jolla architect Trace Wilson presented an update on the schematic design and fundraising for a multiyear effort to refurbish and redesign the Rec Center.

Wilson, who is part of the CRG’s Visioning Committee, said the plans have made a lot of progress in the past two years.

The project would upgrade the center at 615 Prospect St., which opened in 1915 and was originally commissioned by La Jolla philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps and designed by famed architect Irving Gill.

The renovation plans include rearranging the center’s outdoor spaces and installing new playground equipment while staying true to the original architectural elements.

Showing new renderings, Wilson said plans for the inside of the Rec Center will incorporate the currently underused basement, an elevator to all three floors, flexible meeting spaces, an open kitchen and a revamped auditorium connected to playgrounds by a pavilion.

Outside, the in-progress vacation of part of Cuvier Street, which would split the land between the Rec Center and The Bishop’s School, would see the addition of a permanent bocce court, a picnic area, pickleball courts and more.

“The front facade will be fully renovated,” Wilson said.

A splash pad is part of the Recreation Center's planned redesign.
(Courtesy of Trace Wilson)

He added that a splash pad reminiscent of a small wading pool Scripps and Gill installed but later removed would be built in its place.

Wilson said Visioning Committee members met with Parks & Recreation staff last week to discuss possible next steps and garner its comments.

The feedback will be incorporated as the committee moves into “a much more significant architectural design sequence where we get into construction drawings and the coastal development permit,” Wilson said.

He said the nonprofit Friends of the La Jolla Recreation Center will begin fundraising for the plans by sending brochures to potential donors and other community members.

The revamp is estimated to cost $36.6 million. A timeline for it has not yet been established.

The building renovation accounts for $9.5 million of the total, with the playgrounds costing $16 million and other site work $4.5 million. Costs such as contingency, inflation, furniture and equipment round out the total.

Wilson said the Friends group will raise additional money for an endowment fund to help the Parks & Recreation Department with maintenance.

Bocce update: Three months after the CRG approved a request for funds to repair the Rec Center’s temporary bocce court, issues persist in carrying out the repairs.

Tom Grunow of Grunow Construction, the designer of the court, has put a different surface on the court, CRG Chairwoman Mary Coakley Munk said.

Grunow said in February that the new surface was needed because the original surface was more difficult to work with than anticipated.

The west end of the court, which sits several inches above the ground to keep the court level for ball rolling and to accommodate the downward slope of the land, continues to need tending, Coakley Munk said May 25.

She said plans were submitted “to raise the level of the lawn at the [west] end … so it would not be such a huge step for people to get in and out.”

However, Parks & Recreation officials wanted to put a platform at the west end with a railing and a ramp, Coakley Munk said.

“We already have ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] access at the other end,” she said. “I’m not sure why we need it at both ends. … I think it would look really quite obtrusive to add a railing there.”

Castruita said she would relay Coakley Munk’s concerns to department staff.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Community Recreation Group next meets at 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, likely online. For more information, call (858) 552-1658. ◆