Rim of the World Recreation and Park District’s New Lake Gregory Education and Community Center
View the full article on CSDA's website here.
By Karen Reams and Carly Korn, Rim of the World Recreation and Park District
Opening the Lake Gregory Education and Community Center was a joint effort by the Rim of the World Recreation and Park District and the Rim of the World Unified School District. Both districts serve the Rim of the World community nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains.
The Lake Gregory Education and Community Center was previously known as the Lake Gregory Elementary School, a school district facility that opened in 1998. At the time, the Rim of the World Unified School District was showing signs of increased enrollment and all of the school district’s elementary schools were near capacity. Unfortunately, shortly after Lake Gregory Elementary School was opened, the district then began to experience a decline in student enrollment. In June of 2009, the school was closed as a cost saving measure. Parts of the school were temporarily used as a continuation school from 2010 to 2015, but since then the continuation school moved back to the main high school and the school closed its doors once more.
The facility is amazing and at the time of construction was considered state of the art. It was designed with an open concept that allowed partition walls and windows to create an open atmosphere and inviting learning environment. There were many ideas for the facility, but due to the constraints the school district was under only a few options could be possible. Knowing this and the eager desire to provide the community of Crestline their own facility, the Rim of the World Recreation and Park District began negotiating with the school district on a lease agreement that would allow the school to open its doors once more.
During the time the school was closed, the building and outdoor areas had fallen into a significant state of disrepair. The playground area and open field area had irrigation issues, the outdoor basketball courts and handball courts were cracked, the outdoor bathrooms needed repair, the facility needed a deep cleaning, and all the utilities needed attention since they had been turned off for so long. The school suffered some vandalism and break-ins. A lot of love was needed to make the facility secure, safe, and inviting.
The lease agreement was approved by both the school district and the park district in January 2018 and the Rim of the World Recreation and park district held a grand opening in the following month to get ideas and feedback from the community as to what type of programs they would like to see in the center. The feedback was great, but the park district believed the center needed a lot of improvements if was going to be used for the type of ideas the community had in mind. For example, many community members wanted a place to work out, take fitness classes, and exercise. The park district turned one classroom into a dance and fitness studio, supplying the room with full length mirrors on the walls, wood flooring, exercise bares, and sound equipment. Although not all sections of the facility are occupied by the park district, the lease encompasses the first floor and includes four classrooms, a large gymnasium, industrial kitchen, and stage. Since acquiring the facility, the park district added a little league field, repaired the black top, and cleaned up the community center inside and out. Interior upgrades were also implemented. Currently more improvements need to be made, but the facility is enjoyable and serves its purpose.
The classrooms are used for contract classes, special interest programs, and/or self-help programs. The dance and fitness studio, which was a classroom, now services dance lessons and exercise programs. The large gymnasium is a large multipurpose room and tapers off to a stage on the far side of the gym. Many local community organizations have plans for music concerts and stage performance. This gym is the home to many different events and meetings. It acts as the “main event” of the community center and is home to our youth basketball league, adult basketball league, gymnastics program, pickleball, and table tennis, not to mention special sport camp activities like gaga ball, broomball, indoor wiffleball, and Nerf ninja nights. The gym is also a host for indoor community movie nights, community dances, and large events. The park district currently plans and hosts two major events at the Lake Gregory Education and Community Center. The Run Through the Pines (5K and 10K running event) celebrated the district’s 40th anniversary in August 2019 and the center was the perfect staging area for roughly 300-400 runners to run around Lake Gregory. Halloween in the Park, another LGECC event, sees about 500 people who come and take part in the Crestline communities haunted house, hayride, and local vendor/business/organization trick-or-treating. Opening and renovating the facility has restored a lost recreational culture and has reinvigorated the entire mountain community.
The park district has contracted with a local church to lease the facility on Sundays for its services. The facility also has a dedicated teen center that is free and open after school. The teen center was built with community donations and many local teens take pride in their facility. These are just some of the opportunities we have undertaken to continue to serve our local mountain residents. One of the major issues our district was having was a place for people to gather, a meeting place, and a place to make friends. By re-purposing and renovating this facility, we have added to the infrastructure of the entire 110 square miles of our district. What was once a locked facility serving no purpose for our mountain residents is now open for the residents of the San Bernardino Mountains.
Within our boundaries and under our small district operations we have learned to work collaboratively with the agencies and leaders within our community. Because of the leadership of the Rim of the World Recreation and Park District and our board of directors, our residents have gained new avenues for success and have established genuine working relationships to better our services.