July 23, 2008

Center to Offer Hands-on Lessons

By Neil Nisperos

CHINO - Construction progress on a new community center at College Park, near Oaks and Edison avenues, is on schedule with expected completion in November and an opening next spring.

By then, Chino will have a large new public facility for events, and local students can attend classes there to learn the latest techniques in cooking and fashion.

The new 20,000-square-foot Chaffey Community Center at College Park is a partnership between Chino and Chaffey College to house a culinary, hospitality and fashion-design program in a place that will serve the public.

The roof was recently installed and exterior plastering and drywall are being done now, said Pedro Salgado, a project manager for MDA Johnson Favro, the architecture firm working on the buildings.

When complete, Chaffey students will get hands-on training in a real work environment. The two-story building's 5,145-square-foot banquet hall will be serviced by student cooks, with decor devised by fashion design students.

"This will provide wonderful opportunities because the community center, besides academic course work, will provide a wonderful venue for city and public events," said Teresa Hull, dean of Chaffey's Chino campus.

The Community Center Oversight Committee, chaired by Chino Mayor Dennis Yates, is now looking for a marketing director to organize events at the facility. Yates said the center will be among the city's largest community buildings with a seating capacity of 300 people.

"We'll have the State of the City address and the Mayor's Ball there next year," Yates said. "Of course, we'll rent it out for weddings and other large events. It will be available for the general public, not only for Chino, but for all the surrounding communities."

Nearby, the Chino campus's two-story, 12,600- square-foot health science building is also under construction and will house classrooms for a nursing program when it opens in the spring.

The city has long held a partnership with Chaffey College, starting with the opening of satellite classrooms near City Hall nearly a decade ago. The College Park project, however, is the city's most ambitious partnership with Chaffey to date. The community center and health science building are being built near Chaffey's new main instructional building, which opened in March.

There also is room at the site for the campus to expand in the coming decades. State funding is expected to be secured as the student population grows.

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