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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

LCC Working to Bring Community Center to Laveen

For the past couple of years, Laveen Community Council members have discussed building a community center in Laveen. Now the all-volunteer group is pooling its resources in an effort to turn that idea into a reality.


During the last few months, several members have toured community centers around the Valley to generate ideas for a Laveen facility. The search has included stops in Ahwatukee, Glendale and Gilbert.


“The Tom Freestone Center (Freestone Recreation Center in Gilbert) is the one we’ve held as the crown jewel of our field trips. Then from each of the other centers we’ve gathered ideas for additions, if we were to improve on what Gilbert has,” said Russell Luder, who heads the LCC’s Volunteering Subcommittee.


Amenities at the 50,000-square-foot Gilbert center include a climbing wall, four racquetball courts, a fitness/weightlifting room, a double gymnasium, sauna and steam rooms, locker rooms, two aerobic rooms, a game room, an assembly room and a suspended running track.


In addition to incorporating aspects of the Gilbert center’s design, the LCC is hoping to emulate its funding plan. About 10 years ago, money to build Freestone Recreation Center was raised through a city bond election.


LCC volunteers are currently working with Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowksi to ensure Laveen residents are added to the next bond committee, which will be established in about a year. The next City of Phoenix bond election is in 2011.


Russell estimates it will take about $20 million to build a community center in Laveen.


In February, Congressman Ed Pastor announced he secured $196,000 through a federal spending bill to help with funding efforts.


“We’re going to try and use that money to build a bigger nest egg,” said Luder, adding that the money may be used to match funds from other contributors or to help get sponsorships from recreation-related companies.


Two areas have been targeted as possible locations for the community center. The first is on the south side of Cesar Chavez Park at 35th Avenue and Baseline Road, which was originally earmarked for a community center during its planning stages. The other site is part of a 40-acre parcel closer to 51st Avenue and Dobbins Road that has already been set aside by the city for a park.


Since funding sources for the community center are still unknown, no construction timelines are currently in place.


“It’s going to be a nice fit in the long term,” Luder said. “It’s just a matter of getting it done.”


Residents interested in helping bring a community center to Laveen can contact Luder at 602-237-4302 or russellluder@hotmail.com.


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