The Planada Community Center will soon get a face-lift and become the home of several community programs, the Merced County Board of Supervisors decided this week.
County supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved allowing the Human Services Agency to fully manage the building and use it for programs for parent education, senior citizen programs and nutrition services.
The HSA will fund about $100,000 in upgrades, including interior painting, bathroom remodeling, new flooring installation and Americans With Disabilities Act-required improvements. HSA will run programs, such as All Moms Matter, All Dads Matter and other support services.
The community hall was previously managed by the county’s Public Works Department and was most often used for community meetings by various organizations. However, a cutback in public works staff made it difficult to keep up with maintaining the building.
“We used to run that particular facility, but with all our cutbacks with parks and staff reductions, we’ve always had a difficult time getting the hall open and making sure it was ready for people to rent,” said Public Works Director Dana Hertfelder. “This is the first time we’ve done something like this with the community halls.”
The building will still be available for community events, Hertfelder said, but will no longer be available for private events. “My understanding is we didn’t have a lot of demand for private use,” Hertfelder said, noting the building was rented less than 10 times a year for private parties.
Human Services Agency Director Ana Pagan said she believes in bringing programs to the outlying parts of the county to make it easier for people to access services.
“We represent the whole community,” Pagan said. “A couple of years ago, some of the residents of Planada contacted me and said they’d like for us to come out here. The opportunity came up, and now we’ll be able to have more community events and classes.
“The benefit is we can do more community development and outreach,” she said.
Irene De Le Cruz, a longtime Planada resident, said bringing services to the community is a big step because some residents might have trouble getting to Merced.
“There’s a lack of transportation in Planada and it’s a bit difficult to get all the way to Merced,” De La Cruz, 61, said. “So any programs being provided for the community is a big addition to Planada residents.”
De La Cruz said some Planada residents might not have access to technology, another benefit in bringing the HSA services closer to home.
“The community of Planada doesn’t have access to the Internet — unless you can afford it,” she said. “They have set up a whole row of computers, and kids can go in there and use them. Ana Pagan has really opened up an avenue for the youth and adults.”
There are 11 community halls in the county, ranging from Delhi to Dos Palos and Ballico, said Merced County spokesman Mike North. Most are used for community meetings and events.
Sun-Star staff writer Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.