LATHROP – It seemed like another bureaucratic meeting tactic.
Bring out some consultants, slap down a brick of modeling clay and try to get teenagers to physically show what they’d want to see if they got their dream of building a skate park. A bowl here. A rail there. A set of stairs right there in the middle.
It’s good for the consultant because those sorts of meetings are typically part of packages that aren’t cheap. And it gives the kids that participate the sense that they’re actually participating in the process.
But with the Lathrop Generations Center – the nearly 10,000 square-foot complex that’s set to open on June 12 across the street from Lathrop High School – that’s exactly what they were doing. Those hand-molded cups and finger-kneaded edges weren’t exercises in futility but a legitimate chance for the city, which had received a $5 million recreation grant from the State of California, to provide something for the youth of Lathrop.
The gunite walls hadn’t even completely dried before kids were scaling the construction fences and making their first circular rides around the bottom – exposed rebar thwarted a straight-through pass – and there’s a sense of anticipation of what the project will bring to students that have taken ownership of the project in a number of ways.
While the grant helped pay for the initial phase of construction – the building, the skate and parkour parks and a handball wall among other things – it’s a fundraising effort being pushed by the Youth Advisory Commission that is going to outfit the interior with the technology that will attract students after school.
And the building itself is a marvel.
In accommodating multi-generations in one building care was taken to reflect the architectural values of young and old as well as respect function.
After you step into the entry way that also does double duty as an art gallery, one side of the complex has traditional ceilings and rooms designed for quiet use as one would expect in a library. The teen center side, by contrast, has an industrial look to the ceiling with air ducts and such exposed while concrete and other materials for walls for durability on the expectation the room will get heavy use.
Rooms in the center of the building serve both sections and provide a common area.
According to Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal, construction estimates appear to be right on time and the building itself should be up and running just after school lets out for the summer. The fundraising program being pushed by the YAC, he said, is instrumental because of what it will provide.