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EDITORIAL: Welcome to new center

Saturday marks the opening of a new chapter for Laguna Beach seniors and the entire community. A new Community/Senior Center will welcome its first visitors for three hours of celebrations, performances and “getting to know you."

In otherwise bleak times, when recreation facility projects are being halted all over the state, this is a bright spot for Laguna.

The center is a beautiful facility about a half-block from City Hall, on Third Street, where a collection of ramshackle but charming cottages had stood since the early days of the city.

While there were complaints that the “historic" cottages were removed, no one can doubt that what replaces them is a visually pleasing and wonderfully designed structure, with its own bow to history in the form of a California Craftsman style.

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The design includes many “green" components "” for instance, the “wood" that denotes the Craftsman style is actually a composite that won’t deteriorate like wood, or harbor termites. Natural light is found throughout the center’s interior, from huge skylights (that close up when light seepage to the outside is not wanted) to tube lights that bring the sun into dark corners.

The center is a spacious 20,000 square feet, but you wouldn’t know it. It sits low on the site and does not loom above the street as some feared.

On the northerly side, near the Community Clinic, is the warm and welcoming Susi Q Senior Center, boasting a cozy fireplace, meeting and activity rooms.

Children’s dance classes and all-age fitness classes will be held on the southerly side of the building in a spectacular, high-ceiling studio with all-glass fronts. Art classes will have a more secluded but still roomy setting.

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Dividing the sections is a grassy play area that puts some real “green" into the mix. Back inside, a “serving kitchen" will allow for gatherings with refreshments. The Susi Q has a multimedia component for educational programs.

The only thing lacking is some public art to make the place really “pop" with a creative spark. Hopefully the three Jon Seeman pieces that were designed for the site will be put in place in the future. The City Council will cut the ribbon on the facility at noon Saturday, and everyone is invited.



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