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The Daily News of Los Angeles


On Saturday, residents of Woodland Hills and surrounding neighborhoods stepped into the revamped Woodland Hills Recreation Center, with its air-conditioned gym and stage, sparkling new pool, three playgrounds, picnic areas and modern multipurpose rooms. After 21/2 years of construction, they were clearly pleased to be able to return to the popular facility.

Tamara Martinof Canoga Park said she'd never been to the Woodland Hills Rec Center, but she'd seen the place under construction and came to check out the grand reopening and ribbon-cutting Saturday.

"I'm very impressed," Martin said. "I know for sure that we'll be back. ... We're interested in swimming."

"Cooking!" Martin's daughter, Ashlynn,piped in.

"And cooking, of course. We're also in a Girl Scout troop, so we're considering to seeif they have meeting rooms to have our meetings here," Tamara Martin added.

The $13.6 million project modernized and quintupled the footprint of the recreation center, from 2,400 square feet of indoor space to 12,300 square feet. The facility also is more energy-efficient, with 3,000 square feet of solar panels that will generate about a third of the center's energy

needs and solar "tubes" to bring natural light into the gym. The project was financed through $10.9 million in Quimby funds paid by developers and $3 million from a Proposition K park bond.

The rec center was built before big population gains in the San Fernando Valley, said Dennis Zine,the former Los Angeles City Councilman and Woodland Hills representative who oversaw the start of the project. "What we wanted to do was have a state-of-the-art facility with all the amenities," to serve that larger population, he said. "We're very pleased to see this come to fruition."

"It is going to be one of the best parks in the city," said Los Angeles Councilman Bob Blumenfield,who represents Woodland Hills. "This is a very well-used facility. People from all over the Valley use this facility."

The remodeled center at 5858 Shoup Ave.was supposed to open last year. But the project experienced several setbacks, such as the need to remove asbestos, broken gas pipesand construction delays, Blumenfield said. The landscaping is still unfinished, and the city will hold off on laying sod until the weather cools. But the pool opened in July, and pool season will extend until at least Oct. 1 so residents don't miss out on pool days this year, Blumenfield said.

"There was a series of unfortunate events," he said. "So it has been a push to get it to move forward. As you can see, it's something that's worth waiting for."

Zine, former Los Angeles Clippers basketball player Lamond Murrayand former Los Angeles Lakers player Derek Fisher,along with city staff, helped Blumenfield cut the ribbon that symbolically reopened the facility.

"As a young person, (it's important) to have somewhere to go that is safe," Fisher told the crowd just before the ribbon-cutting. "As parents, to know that there's going to be staff and adults in a place where their children can go and play and have fun and be kids. ... You have to have that to have a successful community."

Ray Taheriof Winnetka teaches karate for the city's Recreation and Parks Department, including at the Woodland Hills center. He said the new rec center is a big improvement.

"Wonderful, amazing. It's a dream," he said of the new facility. "Sometimes it was (so) hot inside, we'd go outside ... we'd teach outside."

Rhoda Cadizof Woodland Hills said she and her family had been waiting for the new facility to reopen. "We've been going to different schools, (but) other schools don't have air conditioning," she said as her three sons played basketball with dozens of other kids in the new gym. "It's closer to our house, and all the other parks are farther, so this is our home park."

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August 28, 2017


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