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Lancaster, Palmdale city councils pool resources for AV Fair facility


A new Multi-Agency Regional Resiliency center

This week, the Lancaster and Palmdale’s city councils came together for a special joint meeting Monday at Antelope Valley College to consider a number of items of mutual interest to both cities.

The two municipalities agreed to pool resources to build the Antelope Valley Fair Multi-Agency Regional Resiliency Center at the Antelope Valley Fair & Event Center.

Palmdale also reaffirmed its commitment to the development of a regional recreation center that will serve the residents of the city in times of emergencies.

The Lancaster City Council unanimously acknowledged it committed $6.5 million for design services and reaffirmed its commitment to developing a funding strategy which will fully fund the construction of the evacuation center and direct the city manager to pursue all available funding sources including, but not limited to, grant funds and/or debt financing.

The Palmdale City Council voted 2-1, with Mayor Laura Bettencourt dissenting, to identify and appropriate $7.5 million ($2.5 million was previously allocated) for the Multi-Agency Regional Resiliency Center facility and its commitment to the development of a center that will serve residents of Palmdale in times of emergencies that may happen to occur.

Palmdale Mayor Pro Tem Andrea Alarcon and Councilmen Austin Bishop recused themselves from the discussion and action.

Palmdale Councilman Eric Ohlsen wanted to ensure that residents on the east side of the city would benefit. He also sought to ensure that the city received a seat on the Antelope Valley Fair Joint Powers Authority Board of Directors.

“We want your participation,” said Lancaster Vice Mayor Marvin Crist, who serves as chairman of that board.

The 140,000 square-foot Multi-Agency Regional Resiliency Center, or MARRC, as it is known, will serve as a fully functioning, large-scale, off the grid, resilient and emergency evacuation center and event center.

The proposed complex includes construction of a 23,000-square-foot emergency operations center and a 7,000-square-foot culinary community kitchen. A 15,000- to 20,000-square-foot renewable energy center will be built later.

“An added benefit of the location is that the proposed building will not sit as an empty, useless shell,” Marissa Diaz, public works director for the City of Lancaster, said during a presentation. “This building will be able to serve dual purposes as an evacuation center and an event center.”

The space will be able to accommodate 32 pickleball courts, eight basketball courts, 16 volleyball courts and will be able to host a multitude of events. It will also be able to accommodate up to 1,000 evacuees.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture Fairs and Expositions Branch awarded the city of Lancaster and the Antelope Valley Fair Authority a $20 million toward the complex.