Gathering place


POSTED: Friday, September 04, 2009

Oahu's second major city will soon be the host of the largest community center in the state.

More than 150 people gathered under a large white tent staked on a dry parcel of land in East Kapolei yesterday to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center. Area lawmakers and Salvation Army officials were among the guests who attended the ceremony.

“;It's going to be a real asset to this part of Oahu,”; said Maj. Edward Hill, commander of the Salvation Army's Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division. “;This side of the island doesn't have the same recreational resources that Honolulu does. I think the Kroc Center is going to be positioned to provide some of the services, programs and activities that might not otherwise be in place to serve West Oahu.”;

Residents statewide will be able to use the center. Site preparation work is currently being done before construction is set to begin in February. The center, expected to serve at least 2,000 people daily, is slated to open in the summer of 2011.

Hawaii was selected as the recipient of a $110 million capital and endowment grant from the late Joan Kroc, widow of Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald's. The grant comes from $1.6 billion bequeathed to the Salvation Army by Joan Kroc to build community centers throughout the country.

As part of the grant, Hawaii was required to raise money to help sustain the center.

Led by Don Horner, chairman of the Kroc Center Hawaii Steering Committee, fundraising efforts generated $22.5 million so far of their goal of $23 million. Some of the substantial donations came from the late Jack and Marie Lord, who bequeathed more than $4 million in endowment to the Salvation Army, and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation with $3 million.

The center will be more than 120,000 square feet on 15 acres of land at the intersection of North-South and East-West roads. Nearby structures will include the University of Hawaii-West Oahu campus and the proposed first rail transit stop. Some of the center's main features are an NCAA-size gymnasium, competition pool and air-conditioned dorms where athletes or conferees can stay for planned events held at the center. It will also provide 100 permanent jobs.

Some community members are grateful and excited about the project. “;This is such a huge blessing for west-side families,”; said Maeda Timson, chairwoman of the Makakilo-Kapolei-Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board.

Main features of the Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center:
» Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Education & Resource Center: classrooms, technology training, art and recording studios, and multipurpose rooms.
» Jack and Marie Lord Worship and Performing Arts Center: A 500-seat room to include a dining room, commercial kitchen for performances, graduations, banquets and community functions.
» Clarence T.C. Ching Athletic Center: An NCAA-size gymnasium for basketball, volleyball and other recreational activities. The gymnasium will include team rooms and showers.
» Walter F. and Mary Dillingham Frear Early Education Center: A preschool for up to 150 children.
» Health and Wellness Center: A 12,000-square-foot fitness center to have the latest cardio and weight training equipment. The center will include fitness studios, health assessment and personal training rooms.
» Aquatic Center: A competition pool to host swim meets and water polo matches. Recreational activities, aqua therapy and swim lessons will also be available. Outdoor pavilions for family celebrations.
» Hale Hookipa: An air-conditioned, 48-bed dormitory for local and mainland traveling sports teams, retreats and conferences.
» Park: Three-acre grassed park with restrooms and outdoor sports activities.
Source: The Salvation Army