Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe speaks at the opening of the Bay Terraces center. Photo courtesy of her office

City and state leaders gathered Friday to commemorate the grand opening of the Bay Terraces Community and Senior Center, a neighborhood gathering place and what is touted as the first city-designed “zero net energy” building.

Surrounded by dozens of community members, Mayor Todd Gloria was joined by Assemblywoman Dr. Akilah Weber and Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe to officially open the 3,400-square-foot facility in Bay Terraces Park completely powered by the solar panels on its roof.

“At last, the Bay Terraces Community and Senior Center is open to serve,” Gloria said. “For decades, residents have advocated for a space to call their own, and today that dream is reality. Not only is this spacious facility beautifully designed, but it is also an energy-efficient structure built with the environment and community in mind.”

The facility includes a multipurpose room, commercial kitchen, office, restrooms and updates to the site to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

“The Bay Terraces Community and Senior Center is the culmination of 30 years of advocacy for a dedicated space, resources and programming for the seniors in our Bay Terraces neighborhood,” Montgomery Steppe said. “We proudly proclaim it Bay Terraces Community and Senior Center Grand Opening Day in the city of San Diego, and we are grateful to celebrate this milestone with the community activists, advocates and allies who relentlessly fought to bring the center to fruition.”

For more than 25 years, community members have advocated for a facility that will serve seniors and residents living in the Paradise Hills, Bay Terraces and Skyline communities. To acknowledge the years of hard work, the grand opening event included a ribbon cutting ceremony and a program complete with a line dance performance, food, music and remarks from community members.

“It is my honor to be a part of this momentous grand opening event,” Weber said. “The Bay Terraces Community and Senior Center has been a long time coming, and truly speaks to the persistence and tenacity of the residents who made this happen.”

Cynthia “CK” Suero-Gabler, a community member who helped spearhead the efforts to build the center, said she began advocating for the Bay Terraces Community and Senior Center as her RISE San Diego Community Action Project as a RISE Fellow in 2015.

RISE San Diego’s mission is to “elevate and advance urban leadership through dialogue-based civic engagement, dynamic nonprofit partnerships and direct training and support to increase the capacity of urban residents to effect meaningful community change,” according to a statement from the nonprofit.

“The Bay Terrace Fil-Am Senior Association, Fil-Am community leaders and diverse groups of allies joined together in the spirit of bayanihan — communal unity — to bring this 30-year injustice to an end,” Suero-Gabler said.

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