Robinson Park Recreation Center Renovation Breaks Ground Under Rainy Skies

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From STAFF REPORTS

6:34 am | February 20, 2017


A crowd of officials and Northwest Pasadena residents gathered in a tent under light rain for the groundbreaking of an important new $11.4 million City recreational facility on Saturday, but grey skies didn’t dampen the enthusiasm and, fittingly, the sun broke through the cloud cover just as the key participants broke the ground.

Construction on Phase II of the Robinson Park Recreation Center Renovation Project will begin this week and is expected to last about 15 months.

This phase will include a substantial rehabilitation of the 19,000 square-foot recreation center including demolition and reconstruction of the multipurpose room, administrative offices, kitchen, the open courtyard, recreation rooms and a conference room, according to Human Services and Recreation Director Wormley.

Approximately 4,900 additional square feet of fitness areas, dance rooms and storage will be added to the facility.

Danny Parker, Chair of the project’s Steering Committee, opened the program and introduced the speakers.

Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek said the project was of such importance that the City was determined to make it happen.

“One of the biggest challenges that we face as you all know because you’ve heard over and over again is that our budget we’re not able to do everything that we’d like to do. But somehow, we found the money, this more than $11 million, to undertake this tremendous project, because it was such an important priority for our City.” Tornek said. “I think that it’s clear that when we invest in our neighborhood, we invest in our city.”

City Councilmember John J. Kennedy, who represents District 3, said the Center will be an important landmark in the District.

“Really, District 3 is the nucleus of the City of Pasadena and we all work together for things that make our community better,” Kennedy said.

City Manager Steve Mermell delivered an overview of the process of securing funding for the renovation project and the subsequent bidding and qualification process that followed.

On the Robinson family’s behalf, Delano Robinson, Mack Robinson’s widow, said the Center and the renovation project that goes into Phase II is a representation of the hard work and dedication City officials and employees, and of the commitment of volunteers who worked with them to make sure the renovation pushes through.

“This beautiful facility will certainly serve the community well because that is what we want,” Robinson said. “As Mr. Obama, our former president, said ‘we’re all Americans, and we should serve this country that way,’ not with riots, not on drugs. As my husband would say, ‘no, I’m not accepting a contract in ’36.’ He could have been working in Germany, he could have been working anywhere when he won that silver medal in 1936. No, he says, ‘I’m going back to Pasadena to help the youth, because they need me now.’”

Robinson also recalled how the site where the Center sits now was very different when she was young.

“As a child coming up in the time of segregation, when I came to Pasadena, only one day swimming in that pool down there, they would drain it, they would scour it, and they would run out all the dirty water from the colored kids and put clean water in for the white kids,” she said. “That was something. We’re not having that anymore and we haven’t had it since.”

She said the community should take advantage of the Center when the renovation work is completed.

“It will be a good start for our youth to get them off the streets and put them into programs that the City will implement for their future,” Mrs. Robinson said.

Once the new center is up and running next year, there are plans to continue offering the popular Youth Sports and Enrichment Program that will include summer camps, tiny tots classes, and adult and senior fitness programs.

The Pasadena City Council approved the preliminary design in February 2015 and authorized the Department of Public Works to proceed with the proposed project. Over 30 community meetings were also conducted to gather public input about the renovation project.

Phase I involved a 2.5-acre expansion of the existing park and improvement of the site with new soccer and baseball fields, installation of synthetic turf, construction of new restroom and storage facilities, new sports field lighting, site amenities and parking lot.

Demolition of the existing structure is expected to take place in early March and will take approximately 15 months to complete with a price tag of $11.4 million.