West Center settling into new locale

       Since moving to the former Buena Vista Elementary School site at 17th and Bijou streets a month ago, the city-owned West Center has resumed offering public services (including classes, trips and youth programs) at close to the same level as when it was inside the West Middle School building. But its director, E.D. Rucker, would like to do more.
       Possible new sports offerings using the old school gym include a badminton league, ping-pong (a group is already starting to bring in their own table to play), kids' basketball and elementary-age volleyball. “We've got plans,” he said. “We've just got to get set up.”
       However, he also clarified, with the city's budget cutbacks, the center only has limited funds for equipment. For example, getting another ping-pong table might mean seeking a donation.
       A drawback to adult volleyball or basketball, Rucker added, is the relatively low height of the gym (17 feet). Either a volleyball set or a basketball jump shot could hit the ceiling, Rucker said.
       Some night classes are being offered in the three-level middle building (where the BV main office, library and several classes used to be). For now, these consist of classes in belly dancing, mosaics, pottery, tai chi and line dancing, he said.
       Although the goal is to increase use of the center, City Parks has no immediate plans to erect new signs identifying its new locale at 1628 W. Bijou St. For the time being, what will be done for external signage is to make adaptive use of the former Buena Vista marquee along 17th Street, Rucker said. The reason for holding off on the signage is that City Parks is open to the possibility of changing the center's name. The idea, according to Parks Director Paul Butcher, is to seek citizen ideas at a future grand opening ceremony - however, this will not be until Aug. 28. A name change might make sense, because the center is no longer at West Middle School and it would also be hard to say it's at Buena Vista when the Buena Vista Montessori program is going to keep that name at the former Washington School site next school year, he said.

Westside Pioneer article