SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- On Tuesday night, the Santa Maria City Council received an update on two long-planned projects that are both intended to help provide event space, as well as create enhanced recreational, educational and cultural opportunities in the city.
During the City Council meeting, council members heard from Recreation and Parks Director Alex Posada, who spoke about the proposed development of the historic Smith-Enos House project, along with the planned Japanese Community Cultural Center.
Posada provided a financial update on funding for the Japanese Community Cultural Center, which included the addition of $500,000 that was requested and secured by Congressman Salud Carbajal last year from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"We are moving ahead with the project," said Posada. This project started with us in the planning stages in 2009, so it's been quite a while. There is movement and there is also the funding available to move the project forward. In any Public Works project, it always is our biggest obstacle, but we do have commitment from the city, from our non-profit partner and from the federal government most recently."
The project already had received a $300,000 contribution form local non-profit organization Japanese Community Center, Inc (SMJCC).
The new federal funding will go towards the overall cost of the Japanese Community Cultural Center project, which is estimated to be $6.5 million.
"I'm excited for it and I'm so glad that Asian culture and even Pacific Islander culture is being represented well here in Santa Maria," said Edianna Ysip, a member with the Allan Hancock College Asian Pacific Educational Xenomania club. It's a huge part of history to have Japanese culture implemented here and because it was part of establishing the community here in Santa Maria, it's great for anyone to learn Asian culture or Pacific Islander culture or any culture here in Santa Maria. It's very important so we know what our ancestors went through, who our descendants were represented by, and who we are now. It's a huge part of who we are now."
According to the city, the Japanese Community Cultural Center is intended to preserve and educate both residents and visitors on the pioneering history of the Japanese in the Santa Maria Valley, particularly the contributions of the Issei, the first generation immigrants. The Issei played a significant role in establishing the agricultural history in the Santa Maria Valley.
"(The center) is about a 10,000 square foot facility that will be an event space for the community to use," said Posada. "The Japanese Community Center, a non-profit organization here in town that's been around for many, many years serving the Japanese community is partnering with the city to bring this project forward."
In addition, Posada spoke about what is now happening with the Smith-Enos House, which is located along Bradley Road near the Enos Ranch shopping center.
The famous ranch house dates back to the 1880's and is well-known in the community for its historic appearance and high-profile location.
After it was moved several hundred yards seven years ago to make way for the Enos Ranch development, the city announced plans to renovate the house as part of a new community events center.
Several years later, there is finally significant movement with a three-phased plan to finish the project.
agricultural history," said Posada. "The Smith-Enos House is one of the oldest pioneer houses that is left in Santa Maria, and we're trying to replicate to some extent what the farm looked like at its original location. The Japanese Community Center building itself is themed after the barn that was part of the Smith-Enos property, so it's a very barn looking kind of a structure from the exterior, but on the other hand, it's also very modern and very stylistic. It's going to create a space where we can have weddings, community events, fundraising events in an atmosphere that is really conducive to that kind of activity."
Posada described a three-phased timeline of construction, including work that is currently taking place at the property.
Right now, work is taking place on exterior detailing on the house, soon to be followed by exterior painting, which is being donated by a local paint contractor.
Later in the summer, work will begin on grading, construction of the community center pad and adjacent parking lot.
Posada expects construction on the cultural center building and surrounding grounds to begin later in the year.
He expects construction to last for several more months, with a target to complete the project sometime in 2024.