Complex Ready to Meet the Community

After delays due to the wet winter, Anaheim's new Downtown Community Center and first public gymnasium will be dedicated Saturday.

Originally, the community center was scheduled to open by May. Some exterior and interior work still must be done, and officials said the new complex won't be in full operation until Oct. 1.

But Ed Kostiuk, who oversees the city's boxing and karate programs, said it is worth the wait.

"Being new, the most positive thing is it's going to give the kids a showpiece they can be proud of," Kostiuk said. "You need a complex like this in every community, especially for the youth, to provide them an opportunity to get off the street."

The $8.5-million complex, on Center and South Philadelphia streets near City Hall, has a 14,000-square-foot gym and 28,000-square-foot community building, which will house a senior citizens center and the city's human services offices.

The gym has hardwood floors and seating for 300 people at basketball and volleyball games. The boxing club, with its new logo, the "Fighting Kangaroos," will have a boxing ring, boxing bags and 5,000 pounds of weights.

A craftsman-style complex with multicolored slate exterior columns, the center has open, cedar-beam ceilings and a lodge-style stone fireplace in the senior game room. The center also has a homework room with eight donated computers, and a studio with cushioned flooring for dance and fitness classes.

"It's a good-looking building, and because it's so comfortable and warm, it will be popular," Mayor Tom Daly said. "My hope is that this will be the first of a series of new community centers throughout the city."

Various sources paid for the center's construction, including federal grants and city redevelopment money. About $500,000 was raised through donations to buy furnishings, fixtures and recreational equipment.

To celebrate the center's opening, activities will be held Sunday through Thursday, including recreation class demonstrations and arts events for children and adults. Saturday's events, which begin at 8 a.m., include a walk, pancake breakfast, 10 a.m. dedication, tours and entertainment.

Information on grand opening activities: (714) 765-5191.

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