Inside the Chisholm Center

The Bob Chisholm Community Center.

With everything in life, it seems that persistence is key. When I arrived and began my employment with the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District in the summer of 2015 one of the projects that was in the early stages of its life was the Bob Chisholm Community Center Main Hall Refresh.

As you may know, the center is owned by the city of Seaside, but operated by the district with the goal of providing a broad spectrum of programs and services to our community. Although there are many programs that cater to our aging adult population, there are many other programs that take place there as well.

The cnter hosts the senior lunch program with a delicious hot meal served daily as well as delivering hundreds of Meals on Wheels to homebound seniors each week. There are pottery classes, group fitness classes and a weekly bingo game, among other programs.

However, the center needed an update and that was evident from before my time with the district. The main hall refresh project was undertaken by the Community Center Commission, an appointed group of dedicated volunteers as well as Darren Gooch, a longtime talented employee of SEPRD.

That commission raised over $50,000 during the course of the next couple of years and did it through the gracious and giving nature of this community. There were donations offered, grants awarded and fun experiences to be had throughout the process. My favorite memory was the hosting of two Fascination Tournaments at the downtown Fultano’s and Arcade. The tournaments brought together hundreds of competitors for a good time and to raise some money for the project.

The commission worked with an experienced architect to create a plan that would address the aspects of the main hall that needed updating. Included in that plan were updates to the lighting, wall coverings and floor as well as the addition of some much-needed color in the room. All of the elements introduced by the designer worked together to address the terrible acoustics in the room.

The commission readily embraced the designer’s suggestion of a fire-engine red paint color on the north and south walls of the main hall, an ode to the building’s namesake, Bob Chisholm. Chisholm was a volunteer firefighter and the public works director for the city of Seaside who died while performing a rescue in the Pacific Ocean in 1997.

Throughout the process, the booming economy continued to flourish. As the commission neared their fundraising goal the district and city of Seaside representatives worked together to gather bids for the eventual work to be completed. Those bids came back much higher than anticipated and the decision was made to delay the project and continue fund raising.

When the bids went out again in the summer of 2018 they came back even higher than the first round due to a continual increase in the cost of materials, some of which nearly doubled in price per square foot over that short period of time. That was disappointing news. However, Seaside, led by elected officials like Mayor Jay Barber and Councilor Dana Phillips, made the decision to fund the project and move forward.

The result is a beautiful community-based project that is nearly finished. Helligso Construction, a local contractor, has been wonderful to work with, as well as Wadsworth Electric. Local painter Randy Anderson has donated many hours of his time and expertise to the project with Sherwin-Williams donating all of the paint used during the project.

The many activities of the main hall will continue, as they have during the construction period. But now they’ll do so in a much more beautiful, warm and inviting space. The center can continue to serve our community with the offerings and space available.

The commission features a bunch of go-getters and they’re already talking about the next projects at the center that they’d like to get completed. While it may take a little patience, I have no doubt that their great work will continue!

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