Mayor Ed Grimes probably said it best.
“This place is fabulous,” he said. “I grew up in Tehachapi and when I went out to play basketball many years ago, I played on dirt. This new activity center makes me proud.”
Grimes was describing the Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District's new Aspen Builders, Inc., Activity Center. Formerly West Park, the building has undergone a transformation with new flooring, lights, basketball hoops and more. The renovated facility had a grand reopening Feb. 9.
The project cost about $300,000, with Jim and Lesa Cyr, owners of Aspen Builders, donating $101,000 toward the reconstruction. Other donor partners included Lehigh, the City of Tehachapi, McDonald's of Tehachapi, Sail Thru Car Wash and RST Cranes, which chipped in an additional $30,000. The rest came out of the TVRPD budget. All the donors had their logos emblazoned on the court floor, along with some additional signage.
“This place had only minimal upgrades since it opened in 1980,” TVRPD manager LeAnn Williams said. “The floor was terrible and it needed an overhaul. We had a vision to get this done for our youth and for the community. This is giving back to our community and is an investment in our youth.”
Williams said she moved to Tehachapi in 2011. She was working for the district in 2013 when she had a goal in mind to do something with the old facility, which plays host to basketball and other sports along with other events.
“I knew this place could be an investment for everyone, but we needed partners,” said Williams, who became district manager in September 2015. “We had the vision and the the Cyr family had the funds to help. They are making a difference in the lives for both young and old.”
Jim Cyr said his kids grew up in Tehachapi and now his grandchildren live here. He wanted a safe environment for them and local youth.
“I have seven grandkids who love sports,” he said. “This facility is a great place and it's important to our family. We are paying it forward.”
His wife, Lesa, said that when her kids were younger, this was the place to go.
“The new renovations will continue that for today's youth,” she said. “We very excited.”
Their son, Nick, called the place “amazing.”
“As someone who has played and coached here, it's really spectacular to see what's been done,” he said. “This place looks to the future with a first class facility for all our kids.”
The upgrades to the Aspen Activity Center began last November. Since the floor hadn't been checked in more than 30 years, there were some moisture issues to address. Williams also noted they needed to get up-to-date on fire code standards and ADA compliance.
“The ADA and fire issues will be completed in the coming weeks,” she said. “But we've taken measures to ensure safety until then, and we're ready to go. We have basketball practices beginning right after these ceremonies, and the first games are this Saturday (Feb. 11).”
Some of the upgrades include basketball hoops that were made to accommodate younger players, with baskets that can be lowered. A new poured floor will be more durable. The facility also can be booked for events such as weddings, holiday events and more.
“The new lighting can be dimmed so they're not as harsh,” Williams said.
City Manager Greg Garrett said the TVRPD has earned the trust and respect of the community, which led to the donations.
“No one would have considered donating funds if they didn't believe in the leadership,” Garrett said. “The community of Tehachapi is filled with exceptional, giving people. The Cyr family and all the partners have shown that. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts.”