Long-anticipated Wilder Park Art and Garden Center Opens

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(Steve Ehrhardt, Photographer)
The long-anticipated Art and Garden Center at Wilder is now open.

    After years of planning, the Art and Garden Center at Wilder is finally open. The Orinda City Council adopted a resolution to accept the improvements for the center at its March 19 meeting. The center is the last piece of Wilder Park, which includes five playing fields, two tot lots, bathroom facilities and parking.
    Located above Fields 4 and 5, the center is part of the amenities agreed to by the developers of Wilder. Originally located at the end of the Wilder residential complex, Brooks Street, the master developer for Wilder, proposed moving the center to the playfields area in 2015 and using the original site for storing excess dirt from grading pads in the overall development. The site will be restored to a hillside when the development is built out. The 6,600 square foot facility broke ground on the new site above the fields on June 7, 2017.
    Operated by the City of Orinda’s Parks and Recreation Departments, the Art and Garden Center’s flexible spaces include a gallery, restrooms that can be used even when the building is closed, two large classroom/event spaces and an outdoor amphitheater. A tot lot is located next to the building. The larger of the two spaces can be used as an auditorium for events or sectioned into three smaller areas. It also includes a sink, counter and storage area for various art classes.
    “It’s so much bigger than the Founder’s Auditorium in the Community Center,” says Facilities and Parks Supervisor Steve Ehrhardt. “We upgraded the flooring to vinyl planks in this part of the center so it can be used for a variety of classes or events.”
    The other large space has a cement floor ideal for art classes as well as a sink, counter area and lots of storage. All the spaces have high ceilings, lots of natural light and views of the spacious hills surrounding the park. All areas of the building also look into a courtyard area with a large amphitheater. In addition, the facility includes solar panels which, according to Parks and Rec Director Todd Trimble, should make the building self-sufficient.
    The Art and Garden Center will provide much-needed space for the City’s Parks and Recreation Department programs. “We’ll be moving our karate and youth wrestling classes to the center as soon as possible,” says Trimble.
    According to Trimble, rental policies for the center will be the same as for the Orinda Community Center. “If someone is using the outdoor stage in the Center’s courtyard, they will have to close down by 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights or bring the activity inside due to the proximity of housing directly above the stage,” Trimble cautions.
    The new facility, however, does not have a kitchen but Trimble envisions using food trucks when necessary. Parking may also become an issue as the lot for the center is down the hill by Field #4. Handicapped parking is available at that location with a long ramp leading up to the Art and Garden Center.
    For more information on activities at the center or booking an event, call Parks and Rec at 925-254-2445 or go to http://www.cityoforinda.org/148/Parks-Recreation-Department.

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