Ground to Be Broken Today on Community Center in Simi : Recreation: The project is due to be completed in the summer of ’94. But finding money to operate the $3-million complex might prove difficult if the state again raids local coffers.


A community center and gymnasium long talked about in Simi Valley will move closer to reality today as recreation officials break ground on the first public recreational complex in the city.

The $3-million project, to be built at a popular Simi Valley park, will include meeting and recreation rooms in addition to a gym with three basketball courts. The complex is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 1994.

“We don’t have a community center that everyone can use,” said Bonnie Carpenter, chairman of the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District board of directors. “We need one, especially for our young people.”

But finding money to operate the 26,000-square-foot facility might be difficult if the state again this year raids the coffers of special districts to balance its budget, Jerry L. Gladden, the district’s general manager, said.


Last year, the Rancho Simi district, which includes Simi Valley and surrounding unincorporated areas, incurred $1.1 million in lost property tax revenues as a result of state budget cuts.

“If we get further reductions, it will be very, very tight,” Gladden said.

The district took out a short-term, low-interest loan to build the facility in the 45-acre Rancho Santa Susana Community Park, at Los Angeles Avenue west of Stearns Street, Gladden said. The park is already heavily used for its six softball and soccer fields.

The money to build the community center will be paid back over 10 years out of the district’s $7.5-million general fund and with income from the city-owned Simi Hills Golf Course, Gladden said.

“We’ve waited a long time for this,” Gladden said.

Neighboring Conejo Recreation and Park District already operates three community centers in Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park, built with money from a $3-million bond issue passed by voters in 1970.

In recent years, the city of Thousand Oaks and the Conejo park district have cooperated to build a senior center and youth center in the city. “But it’s another thing to have the money to operate them,” Karen Lindsey, Conejo recreation manager, said.

The Conejo district lost $1.25 million in last year’s budget cuts, and a further drop in revenue probably would force the district to lay off workers and reduce park maintenance, Lindsey said.

The Rancho Simi district tried a bond issue for new buildings in 1970, but the measure failed to gain the needed two-thirds approval from voters to pass, Gladden said. The district has since run indoor programs in school gyms where possible, he said.

District officials are studying how much it will cost to maintain, staff and operate the new center, Gladden said. Officials hope that the program and class fees will cover some of the operating costs, he said.

Meanwhile, officials from the Rancho Simi and Conejo districts have met with recreation and park officials from Camarillo’s Pleasant Valley district to discuss jointly forming an assessment district or proposing a bond measure to raise money, but no decisions have been made, Gladden said.