Last Saturday, Feb. 25, Gerald Perry, manager of the Avondale YFD Center, presented the survey results gathered weeks earlier, on Feb. 11 when Hefferlin + Kronenberg Architects collected input from the community and shared several variations on their design for the new complex. This time, rather than spreading out across several small groups, attendees gathered to view a presentation, giving a visual interpretation of the results, and time for questions and further discussion.

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In re-capping the first meeting, one critique was the need to hear from more young voices, so surveys were also distributed to Orchard Knob middle-schoolers. Overall, 180 community members took the surveys. The discussion of the results revealed two important main points, with wide consensus:

1. Many people walk to get to the center.

2. Most people desired for the space to be used for educational purposes.

H+K Architects value response trends like these in considering design implications for details like the positioning of parking areas vs. safe and well-lit walking paths approaching and surrounding the center. It’s also important to note the prioritization the community gives to the building being used to educate rather than simply facilitating sports, as in more traditional designs.

Standout responses students gave for why they found Avondale Center important included:

  • “It keeps me off the streets”
  • “It keeps me out of trouble”
  • “It gives me something to do”
  • “It helps me with my homework”
  • “I know my neighbors who attend the events”

Clearly the space is highly valuable to its young constituents, and the parents of those kids were also concerned about their children’s safety in accessing the center from a busy intersection, especially when a little boy was hit there several years back, and another collision scared pedestrians recently. According to designers, putting the entrance on the corner will set back the building where the kids gather at a safe distance from the intersection. Increasing visibility will help the YFD Center gain more traction, making it a true hub of the neighborhood, easily accessible to all.

Another issue raised by parents was the strong desire for a pool where their children can learn to swim, because there is no other local access to one, but the response from the planning committee, involving the most heated exchange of the whole meeting, was that the upkeep expenses for a community pool is far beyond the budget constraints, and requires lifeguard staffing that the center cannot afford. Neighbors were reluctant to accept the firm no given by the committee and expressed their hopes for a future consideration.

Presenters wrapped up the meeting by reiterating that a top priority at this juncture is to remain on track with the timeline and budget. Input is crucial, and all members of the community want a YFD Center that will be used often and deeply enjoyed. In order to build such a space, the planning committee is trying to take essential and realistic priorities into consideration first, so that an attainable design plan gets implemented soon, and results in a space everyone is proud of.

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