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Remodeling Finally Begins At Community Center
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The exterior of the Riverbank Community Center shows one casualty of remodeling work which began this past week: a window on the northeast corner of the building got broken while the room was being sealed off. City officials expect the construction to be completed by April. Ric McGinnis/The News

Residents, local organizations and other community groups can rejoice – construction finally began this past week at the Riverbank Community Center, 3600 Santa Fe, directly across from Cardozo Middle School.

The uncertainty leading up to this news led to postponement or cancellation of seasonal events by several organizations in the community, usually held in the facility.

The Riverbank Federated Women’s Club normally hosts a fundraising Christmas luncheon early in December. It had to be postponed until spring. The Citizen of the Year committee normally holds its installation dinner in January, also postponed until sometime in the spring.

Even though work has finally begun, the project’s conclusion is still uncertain. Luckily, the project is all interior work so rain won’t be an issue. But officials don’t know yet if hazardous materials will be discovered during demolition. That might add complications to the project.

The bid for the task went to Menghetti Construction, Inc., a Modesto firm, awarded at $440,000.

After the city council accepted the bid, the total cost had to be revised by eliminating or changing several elements of the project. The city has received a U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development grant that left $320,317 available after included roof repairs, which have already been completed, according to city officials.

A change order to the contract was authorized by the council during its Dec. 11 meeting, at the same time that it awarded the contract.

Work on the project includes, but is not limited to, furnishing all labor, materials, equipment, transportation, and incidentals necessary for the removal and replacement of the existing multi-purpose room flooring system, ceiling system, lighting system, installation of interior partition walls, doors and all other work included on the plans.

The Riverbank Historical Society has in its collection a copy of the original proposal from Kestner, Wright & Wright, a Los Angeles architectural firm, in 1966. They also designed the original community swimming pool, built nearby. In the original design, the 6,888 sq. ft. building was built with a system of soundproof folding walls enabling the center to be divided into as many as six meeting and crafts rooms, each with its own controlled lighting, air-conditioning, and doors to the outside, according to the plans.

Over the years, the partition walls, original front door and office have been removed.

The door is now electric, handicapped accessible. The Recreation Department office was relocated to City Hall North and the space was remodeled into larger, accessible restrooms.

The Community Center was dedicated in August 1968, by Mayor Bill Boston and council members Bruce Blakely, John H. Snow, Leo Silva and Allen Trawick.

A notice on one of the Center’s windows indicates that some regular activities normally held there will continue, but in the Teen Center next door.