Santa Maria city officials are in preliminary talks to form a partnership with the high school district to use its new, planned performing arts center.
Without an arts center of their own, city officials are considering working with the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District to jointly use the $8 million center that’s planned for the northeast corner of the Pioneer Valley High School campus at 675 Panther Drive.
The district will likely begin construction on the center in fall of 2013, with completion in the fall of 2014 or spring of 2015.
City Manager Rick Haydon said Santa Maria has worked with the school district on past ventures, including construction of swimming pools at three of the district’s four high schools.
“We asked before it gets too far down the line if we could talk to our city council and also talk to the school district on a joint venture,” Haydon said. “We know we don’t have the funding to do it ourselves.”
When the performing arts center is finished depends a lot on how much input and money the city wants to invest in the project, said Gary Wuitschick, director of support services at the school district.
“At this point, we’ve asked them to provide us with a letter of interest with more details,” Wuitschick said. “There’s really a lot of discussion we still have to have with the city.”
Haydon said the city is working on the letter. Whether there’s enough interest and where the funding will come from are future discussions, he added.
Santa Maria would need to bump up the performing arts center capacity to at least 500 seats from the originally planned 365, Hayden said. The school district is still working with BCA Architects on project design.
Increasing seating also increases support costs, such as adding more restrooms, lobby space and other infrastructure.
The center, which would be the North County’s largest facility, will be paid for with part of the district’s 2004 bond measure, state funds and city money if the partnership does move forward, Wuitschick said.
More formal meetings are expected to take place once the city sends its letter of interest.
“We don’t have that type of venue right now,” Haydon said. “There’s not going to be an opportunity, I don’t think, to do it in the foreseeable future.”