A landmark day at Pacific Park

The sound of bouncing basketballs and squeaking sneakers echoed through the gym at the Pacific Community Center as Joshua Palpallatoc made his way from one end of the basketball court to the other.

During the summer the 16-year-old played basketball at the indoor court three times a week, but on Saturday, Palpallatoc was there to participate in free drills as the city of Glendale celebrated the 10th anniversary of the community center.

"The courts are better than playing outside. It's air-conditioned," Palpallatoc said as about a dozen children attended art and gymnastics demonstrations on the other end of the gym.

A decade ago, the city and Glendale Unified School District spent $44 million on the community center and adjacent Thomas Edison Elementary School revamp. The complex now has a multipurpose gym, a library, community center, a pool and other amenities.

The joint project has long been a symbol of what can be accomplished when school and city officials leverage resources.

City Council members for years have pushed for more joint projects, urging the school district to open its soccer fields to public use after school.

Rosalba Marquez said she loved the dual nature of the complex at 501 S. Pacific Ave., especially since her 5-year-old daughter attends the adjacent school.

"I'm very proud of it," Marquez said, snacking on free pizza.

Many of the roughly 90 event-goers Saturday said the Pacific Park pool, which was installed about two years ago, is their favorite part of the complex.

Jody Freeman brought her 6-year-old twins, who on Saturday wore pink and purple tutus, to the pool for swimming lessons this summer

"Now they swim like mermaids," she said.

Although people at the anniversary event gave the complex shining reviews, it has had its problems.

When it was in the planning stages, the cost of the project ballooned by millions of dollars. And last year, contractors agreed to pay the city $4.9 million for defective construction at the complex, about $1.5 million less than the city asked for in its 2007 Superior Court lawsuit.

The construction held up until the 2006-07 winter, when pipes started leaking, the gym floor bubbled up, and officials found other problems.

Other improvements have been planned since then, with the city expecting to spend $990,000 on artificial turf for the sports field, which is used so much that the grass continually gets run down. Construction bids on the project were due last month.

Although she lives nearby, Saturday was the first time Gloria Fajardo brought her 4-year-old daughter to the community center.

"I'm looking at signing her up for art classes now," Fajardo said as her daughter tugged on a maroon balloon that said "I Love Pacific Park," with a heart symbolizing love.


Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.


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