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Opinion: Architect suggests arts school and more for OUSD property

web 1 7 21 Whitman Ojai Art Institute 1

By Marc Whitman

I have been following the proposals for the Ojai Unified School District property for the last several years and have the following thoughts, ideas and comments.

1. I do think a reuse of the property to create a dynamic and inspirational space for the people of Ojai is needed, but I think the property should stay in the public realm.

2. The taxpayers procured the property as an educational facility, so I think the property should remain as an educational facility; but since the population of Ojai has evolved from families with kids to adults, a higher-education or adult educational facility would be fitting.

3. I suggest a nonprofit organization be formed to create such a facility.

4. The facility should be profitable enough to reimburse the school district. Perhaps the school district could get a percentage of the profits of the facility.

5. I propose an adult art institute with a variety of arts, cooking, music, dance, drama, painting, sculpture, ceramics, welding, etc.

The facility would reuse all existing structures and build new improvements, including

A. Affordable artist and teacher housing.

B. A community hall, for events, concerts and weddings — the wedding venue would generate income to support the nonprofit.

C. A new entry centered on Matilija Street to create a connectivity and flow from downtown Ojai.

D. An energy tower that will store solar energy for nighttime use.

E. A hostel facility for temporary housing for art students.

F. Various community amenities such as an area for the farmers’ market, plaza along Ojai Avenue for outdoor dining and activities, etc.

6. The school could be centered around midweek workshops to enhance the existing hospitality industry during midweek business.

I have attached a schematic layout of such a facility.

— The writer is an architect.

 

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