The City of Woodlake is ready to break ground on a highly anticipated project for its local community.
About four years ago, the city council and staff started actively discussing the need for a facility to be utilized by all age groups from seniors to school-age children, said City Manager Ramon Lara. The city currently does not have a parks and recreation department.
Property was required in order to qualify for a loan to build a community center. With that in mind, the Woodlake Lions Club donated a piece of property located on North Magnolia Street.
“We jumped all over that,” said Police Chief Mike Marquez, who is a member and past president of the Lions Club.
In April 2015, Woodlake City Council entered into an agreement with the Woodlake Lions Club which allowed the City to acquire the property that would allow the city to build the Woodlake Plaza and Woodlake Community Center.
The property, which had formerly also had an old building, had been owned by Francis J. White, a prominent Woodlake citizen for which a local school is named. He gave the property to the club. The old building has since been removed.
At a special council meeting in August, city council awarded the construction project to the “lowest responsive bidder” from a field of five, the Klassen Corporation, from Bakersfield. Work is set to begin within the next week or two. The project is expected to take about a year to complete.
The reported estimate building cost is nearly $4 million, with $3 million coming through a 40-year loan.
“I can tell you that this is a project that’s overdue,” said Mayor Rudy Mendoza. “It’s a continuation of our renaissance period.”
The center, Mendoza said, “will house the senior center, be a gathering place for community meetings, and add to the continual beautification of downtown.”
Plans for the 12,000 square-foot building reveal a full kitchen, a full gym, the senior center, council chambers and offices for the city’s water/sewer department.
“It will be built to modern standards – a state-of-the-art building,” Mendoza said, which will include public computers and Wi-Fi. With heating and air conditioning, the center will undoubtedly be used as a cooling center in hot summer months as well, he added.
Mendoza hopes the facility will also attract the attention of local Boys & Girls Club to potentially start a program there.
“The project is funded by general funds for all portions, except the water/sewer offices which will be funded by water/sewer funds,” Lara said. “The city has allocated current funds to repay the ($3 million) note.”
“It’s going to serve a multitude of purposes,” Chief Marquez said, “It will be great to have the center, for the community to gather and participate in public meetings. It will offer a place for seniors to go during the day and will be open into the evening hours with computers, and internet, for research or to do homework.”