Spotlight’s on new El Cariso center

October 24, 2012 

The new gymnasium and community center are ready for action, starting Saturday.

El Cariso Park’s new community center’s got game—15,000 square feet of it, including a state-of-the-art gymnasium, gleaming stainless steel kitchen, eco-friendly landscaping, and a main lobby adorned with three shimmering olive leaf sculptures suspended from above.

The $11.5 million project also includes a computer-equipped classroom and a multipurpose room. The gymnasium has two electronic scoreboards and can be divided so more than one game can take place at a time.

The new center significantly expands the recreational profile of the county regional park, which attracts 410,026 users each year and offers programs for young people, seniors and others that draw 8,326 annually.

The artwork in the lobby, by Venice sculptor Cliff Garten, was commissioned under the county’s Civic Art program. It pays tribute to the fabled olive groves of Sylmar, where the park is located.

The leaves in the sculpture are bronze, and the new building’s environmental certification is LEED Silver, all the way. The designation honors energy-efficient design and building methods.

Anticipation for the center’s opening is building in the neighborhood.

Juan Cisneros, who lives a few blocks from the park, is looking forward to enrolling his sons, Christian and Andrew, in basketball programs there, and perhaps volunteering as a coach himself.

“I already picked up some registration forms,” he said. “I was there yesterday. From the outside, it looks huge. Even my wife is excited to see the inside of the gym.”

Alina Mendizabal, a local activist and park volunteer, said the new facility represents a big step forward for the community.

“It’s brought Sylmar up another notch,” she said. “I’m really excited because it’s such a beautiful building. There are so many things we can do in there…The possibilities are endless.”

Dedication of the gymnasium and community center—a joint project of the 3rd Supervisorial District and the county departments of Parks and Recreation and Public Works—will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27. The park is located at 13100 Hubbard St., Sylmar, 91342.

If you can’t make the opening, or just can’t wait for a sneak peek, check out the gallery of images below.

Posted 10/24/12

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