The city of Santa Maria has solicited bids for the first phase of work for a new community center to honor the agricultural history and highlight the role of early Japanese immigrants as part of a new park at Enos Ranch.
The City Council this week formally accept $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Japanese Community Center, months after Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, announced the funding.
“It’s just a great opportunity for us,” Recreation and Parks Department Director Alex Posada said before the council unanimously voted to accept the funding and heard an update on the project.
The community center will sit near the 1880s-era Smith-Enos House off Bradley Road across from Costco and Lowe’s as part of the larger Enos Ranch development.
The project will cost approximately $6 million, with some $300,000 previously donated by the non-profit Japanese Community Center.
Posada provided a video overview of the project’s 10,000-square-foot building designed to look like a barn. It will have a kitchen and a 7,800-square-foot meeting space that will open into a patio, formal garden and large lawn area.
Inside the new center’s lobby will be a large art piece commissioned by the Santa Maria Japanese Community Center. Display cases will show items from the early Japanese residents.
A representative of the nonprofit Japanese Community Center said members look forward to the facility and continuing efforts to create a place where newer generations can continue to learn about the culture and language of their heritage.
The center will offer a different venue for the wider community, Posada said.
“Typically our venues are gymnasiums. This one is specifically designed to be an event space,” Posada added.
Design work and plans are done with permits in place, Posada said. Recreation and Parks staff has handed off the project to the Public Works Department to oversee the formal bidding process.
“It’s going to be a great addition to the facilities that we have available to our residents and to other groups to come in and use the facility for public meetings and spaces,” Posada said.
The Public Works Department has put out a call for bids for work at the site, including grading the entire site; installing gas, electric, water and sewer services; and constructing the foundation pad for the community center building.
Bids for the project’s first phase are scheduled to be opened in mid-May.
The 7-acre site already is home to the historic Smith-Enos House, where crews worked to reinstall woodworking details that had to been removed. The roof and windows have already been replaced.
“The house is now seismically retrofitted so it won’t fall down, although it hasn’t fallen down in over a hundred years,” Posada said. “It’s for sure going to be there for a while.”
Future plans include painting the house, with a a local paint company and painter having donated time and supplies for the project.
“Right now, it’s pretty much a skeleton inside,” he added.
Several pieces of antique furniture have been donated for use in the restored structure.
“It’s just been a great project,” Posada said.
The project’s second phase, which could go to bid later this year, will center on construction of the community center, and the final phase will be finishing the interior of the house.
Other features planned at the site that’s part of the larger Enos Ranch Specific Plan will include walking paths, a vineyard display, and art walks.
Posada told the council he recently made a presentation about the project to a local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, receiving donation for the huge flagpole that will stand at the location.
“It’s a great community project, typical of Santa Maria, where people are just stepping up and helping out,” Posada said.