Arlington Hills is almost ready


The large community room at the new Arlington Hills Community Center will play host to two free daily meals for kids during the summer. (Patrick Larkin/Review)

The Arlington Hills Community Center features a double gym with a divider, and a running track sits above it. (Patrick Larkin/Review)

The teen center has books and media specifically for teens, in a room that has an interactive computer display, floor to ceiling whiteboards, a recording studio and a performance area. (submitted photo)

The main stairway leading from the main floor into the basement features wood paneling from Wood from the Hood, and minimalistic hanging lights. The stairway leads down into the teen center and to the facility’s double gym. (Patrick Larkin/Review)

New community center will open May 22

The Arlington Hills Community Center, a first-of-its-kind public building for St. Paul, is just about ready to swing open its doors for visitors.

Staff are placing furniture as it comes, preparing for the grand opening on May 22 and the end of the school year, when, if things go as planned, kids will begin pouring in to the new building.

The grand opening takes place from 4 to 7:30 p.m. and will feature an open house, a speech from St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and other prominent St. Paulites, a bounce castle, and more.
But beyond that, it’ll be a chance for East Siders to check out the new digs. The building is the first truly joint venture of its kind for the city -- Parks and Recreation staff will work alongside St. Paul Public Libraries staff, sharing space and facilities, as well as job duties. In preparation for the opening, parks and library staff have been doing cross-trainings to ensure that they’re on the same page.
This way, when kids check out a book at the facility’s teen center, it doesn’t matter whether they’re greeted by Parks and Rec or library staff. They’ll both know what to do.

The Createch studio, aimed at engaging teens, features hi-tech gadgets that are a far cry from the basic assets of the old Arlington Hills rec center and the historic Carnegie library.

The studio will feature interactive touch screen displays, a recording studio, and media that parks and library staff are hoping will get kids to engage with technology in a productive way. The technique is so new that staff aren’t really sure how the kids will interact with the space. They’ll have to wait and see.
And the library is hoping to be poised for the variety of patrons who will come through the doors. There will be welcome signs outside the building in seven different languages, and books and movies available in Hmong and Spanish.

The library will also have a Karen translator on staff, who will be around to help Karen adults and children alike with language difficulties.
The library will also feature a community learning lab, where kids can get homework help, and adults can get career counseling and take computer classes on a new set of laptops.

A fitness center is stocked with brand new workout equipment, and will cost only $30 per person per year to use for people who live or work in St. Paul.

Starting June 12, the facility’s large community gathering room, complete with a kitchen, will offer daily free meals for kids younger than 18 at noon and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday up until Aug. 21.

The building will have hours far beyond what the old rec center and library had -- it will be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Touches like bright green mosaic tile in the restrooms and wood paneling harvested from the Twin Cities, via Wood from the Hood, give the building a homier feel and make it seem less institutional.

Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ESRPatrickLark.

 

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