Academy Park, which now includes the new county Parks and Rec’s $9 million performing arts center and community enrichment center, is not quite ready to let you come in and play.
The newly-built enrichment center, off Columbia Avenue at 112 Everbright Ave. on the site of the old Battle Ground Academy, needs only minor details tied up and furnishings moved in before it can open, and the renovation of across-the-courtyard Cloverdale Hall into a performing arts center needs a little bit more time.
But the time is coming, soon. Gordon Hampton, county Parks and Rec director, said he sees the public starting to be let in to the Enrichment Center, at least, sometime next month.
“We will probably get a limited certificate of occupancy next week, but looking around you can see we have a lot of stuff to move in so I would say the middle of February at the earliest,” he said. “But due to the fact that this area is still going to be a construction site as the performing arts center finishes up, we are going to ease into it with a couple of soft openings.”
He estimates that perhaps in April the county will host an official grand opening and ribbon cutting.
Hampton took Home Page on an early-look tour of the huge two-story building on Friday. Trisha Bilbrey, the recently-hired facilities manager for the enrichment center, led the way.
The doors open up to a spacious lobby, with a stone-masonry gas fireplace at one end and the reception counter to the side at the other. The wings of the rectangular building sit to the left and right upon entering.
“It will be set with furniture for seniors to sit around and talk or relax,” Bilbrey said.
To the side, Bilbrey led the way to the future Wellness Center:
“This will have exercise equipment, weights, television on the walls; and it will be geared towards seniors, but open to the public after 3 p.m. daily,” she said.
From there across and down a hall is a room called Studio 1:
“The studios, there are two upstairs and one down here, will be used for programs, drawing, classes, anything like that,” Bilbrey said.
“During the day, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., much of the bottom floor will be for seniors, as the new home of the J L Clay Senior Center. But after that it opens up for kids and the public.”
Next up, a left at the end of the hall, is the senior’s lounge:
“The lounge will have televisions, chairs and tables, as well as a pool table,” Bilbrey said.
Outside a door the leads from the lounge to the southern-facing side of the building and a patio:
“The building has several patios, on both floors,” Bilbrey said. “We will put have heavy furniture out here so it doesn’t walk away.
The the left of the patio the performing arts center is in view. The courtyard between the two will feature a fountain sculpture, with money donated by JL Clay Senior Center, which will soon move its operations wholly to Academy Park.
Down the hall, back through lobby, to the other end of the first floor Bilbrey opens up a door to the banquet hall:
The hall seats up to 250 people when undivided. A retractable wall can divide it into two halves, one about half the size of the other, but still plenty roomy.
“The hall will be for events of many types, and available for rental by organizations and the public for events such as weddings,” Bilbrey said.
There is a kitchen, also, in support of the building and next to the Banquet Hall for easy access by caterers.
There are stairs and an elevator in the lobby.
The second floor is not a full floor, but more of a balcony or loft, with walkway to either wing, where more studios are, looking down on the lobby.
On one wing is the dance room:
The dance studio boasts a state-of-the art sound system, and a 2-way mirror for parents to watch their children. Dance, such as hip hop and ballet, is just one of the many programs Parks and Rec will at Academy park. The full event schedule is not yet public, because dates have not been set.
“The programming is all done, and full up,” Bilbrey said.
The tour continues back out to the 2nd floor walkway, digressing out onto another patio, which looks toward the performing arts center:
Back in and heading back to the elevator, here is a view from the second floor of a special LED chandelier light fixture capping the lobby ceiling:
Another view looking down to the lobby, at the Columbia Avenue- facing entrance and registration desk:
Back at the elevator, waiting to go back down, Bilbrey points out the second floor fireplace:
Back downstairs, she leads outside, where there are cricket ball courts on the back side. Then to the south end of the building, where there is a bocce ball court, as well as a small amphitheater for outdoor performances:
She leads back in, the tour ending where it started at the registration desk in the lobby:
Waiting there is Hampton, who then answered questions that he is quoted on in the first part of this post. After some congenial prodding, he and Bilbrey pose for the final picture of the tour: