MEADOW LAKE — As temperatures warm up and the school year winds down, people are looking for fun things to do and now recreational activities are available at one Valencia County community center.
Adults and children are welcome to stop by the Meadow Lake Community Center, 100 Cuerro Lane, to play some board games, take a swing at some balls in the batting cage or just run wild on the grass to get some energy out.
Jasmine Beltran, Valencia County’s new recreational coordinator, said right now the center is using an “open recreation” concept, where people can drop in while its open and take advantage of what’s there.
“We’re just opening the doors and allowing them to come in and play pool, ping pong. We have a giant Connect Four game, board games, exercise equipment,” Beltran said.
Outside, there’s a portable batting cage and a soft toss system that will automatically continue to throw the ball to batter, horse shoe pits, a throwing net for football, basketball court, small playground and shade structures with picnic tables.
Right now, the recreation programming is just at the Meadow Lake center due to budget constraints.
“A recreation department is something the commission and community has wanted for years,” said Lina Benavidez, public works director for the county. “We’ve just never had the funding.”
While capital outlay appropriations from the Legislature have built and provided improvements and repairs to the county’s community centers, those funds can’t be used for salaries or programming costs. That is left to the county.
Benavidez said since the county has been able to close the old landfill and hand off operation of the Conejo Transfer Station to a private contractor, the environmental tax that used to be dedicated to those needs has shifted to support one recreation department employee, Jasmine Beltran.
As a department of one, Beltran is looking forward to the challenge of building the program from the ground up.
“I like a challenge. In my old position as solid waste liaison, it was a brand new position that I pretty much built from the ground up,” Beltran said. “When this position opened and it was pretty much the same, I was intrigued with the challenge.
“I’m very people oriented. A lot of people feel comfortable coming in and talking to me. I like that people trust me enough to do that. I’m excited for this to give back to the community and give something for the kids to look forward to after school or for the summer.”
Benavidez said as funding increases for the department, the goal is to hire more people in order to be able to bring programming and staffing to the other community centers the county operates.
“I want to see it fully functioning,” Beltran said. “I want to see more kids and more adults get involved.”
Recreation programing at the center is available to the community 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.
The Valencia Community Action Network holds an all-ages fiber arts session from 4-7 p.m. every Thursday at the center.
For more information about county recreation programs or to rent one of the community centers, contact Jasmine Beltran by phone, 505-866-2033, or email, [email protected].
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.