Lone Pine resident “Rattlesnake” Dave Haas saw a need in the community and took it upon himself to meet that need by purchasing a long-vacant building and pouring his own resources into it to create a community center.
In what has been described as Haas’ typical no-nonsense, philanthropic style, he purchased the old Schat’s Bakkery building at the northwest corner of Main and Holt streets in Lone Pine this spring and has been working to renovate the building into a facility that can be used for a number of different events.
Haas will host an open house at the building from 1-5 p.m. Saturday to celebrate its completion. All are invited to attend to get a look at the refurbished building.
Haas said the building will serve as an office for Fifth District Supervisor-Elect Matt Kingsley and Healthy Communities of Southern Inyo Director Charles James. There will also be space in the building specifically for the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce, which will maintain its main office at 120 S. Main St.
The new community center will serve as a youth center for Lone Pine youngsters and will be available to rent out for weddings, birthday parties, dances and other community events.
Haas said that he purchased a pool table a couple years ago when Healthy Communities opened a youth center at Statham Hall in Lone Pine. That youth center was closed when a conflict arose with seniors using Statham Hall, and the pool table has since been locked away in storage.
James said he is already looking to bring some of the Kids Club equipment Healthy Communities has in storage to the community center. He is also researching grant opportunities to hire someone to open the building a couple days a week for local youngsters.
Haas also said that there is a space at the north end of the building that may be rented out to a restaurant in the future.
James said the vacant space in the building is an ideal location for a restaurant because it will be located next to what he believes will become a social hub in Lone Pine.
“That building has been vacant for years, for so long that I don’t even know how long exactly,” said James. “It’s a great-looking building now. They put in all hard-wood floors and windows on the west side so you can see the mountains.”
Haas estimated the old building has been vacant and under construction for much of the past 20 years, and when he saw it hit the market, he realized he could eliminate an eyesore on Main Street and provide a service to the community.
“When I bought it, it was a piece of junk,” Haas said. “I tried for two years to build a building and give it to the county,” but those efforts were not going anywhere due to legal obligations the county would have to meet, because it is a government entity.
The new community center has already caught the eye of some residents, and Haas said he has already booked three events there, including a concert and dance.
He has also heard that the Lone Pine Film Festival is interested in renting space in the building for its event next year.
Haas is charging a $300 per-day fee to rent the facility. “This isn’t a government subsidized operation; I have to pay taxes, insurance and utilities,” Haas said, adding that his goal is not to make a living off renting out the building, but to cover his costs. “I’ll adjust the fee if I have to,” he said.