Auditorium and Dining Room Will Remain Closed for Seismic and Accessibility Improvements
Beginning mid-July, the Goleta Community Center (GCC) will re-open for community use, with exception of the dining room and auditorium. Originally built in 1927, the GCC is an important gathering place for our community. The GCC is owned by the City and operated by the non-profit Goleta Valley Community Center (GVCC) organization. Though the GCC has been closed to the public since March of 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, in an abundance of caution, the auditorium and main dining room areas were closed in January following an inspection and review of existing building condition reports by the City’s Building Official in preparation for the improvements project. Based on this analysis and the consensus of the City’s professional staff, the determination has been made that until seismic repairs are completed, these two rooms should not be open to the public.
Public safety and access to services are the City’s top priorities. Therefore, we are aggressively seeking more than eight million dollars needed for seismic and disability access improvements at GCC to bring it up to today’s seismic and accessibility standards and assure a safe facility for generations to come.
The City has applied to multiple granting agencies in an effort to secure the funding needed for the seismic and ADA improvements. The City received a Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) grant to design the seismic repairs and qualifies for additional FEMA funding for construction. The City applied for the additional FEMA grant funds for construction, but since they are not guaranteed additional grant opportunities are also being pursued. As for the accessibility improvements, the City has set aside almost $294,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for that purpose.
Even once funding is secure, the project is likely to take several years to complete. While we know this may be disappointing to many of our community members, our top priority is the safety of GCC users.
Fortunately, the closure of the auditorium and main dining room does not affect the other rooms at the Community Center, including the buildings occupied by the Rainbow School, CommUnify and the COVID-19 testing site on the west side of the GCC main building. The GVCC has announced that it tentatively plans to reopen the rest of the building in mid-July. At that point, other rooms at the Community Center will be available for booking and for existing programs to resume, such as the GVCC Senior Program. GVCC staff has taken time over the last year to improve and refresh many of the classrooms and gathering spaces and are excited to have people back in programs. For information on room rentals and programs, please contact GVCC staff at (805) 967 – 1237.
To mitigate the closure of the auditorium and main dining room, City staff are working with the GVCC staff to evaluate other ideas for providing additional space for community programs.
The City Council will be considering the challenges and future of the Goleta Community Center at its August 17th, 2021, meeting. We encourage interested parties to tune in to learn more.