By MATTHEW MEYER | Reporter
The underfunded Palisades Recreation Center on Alma Real Drive is considering granting 22 parking spots to local private school Seven Arrows Elementary in exchange for a hefty financial contribution.
The decision was up for debate at a special meeting of the Pacific Palisades Park Advisory Board on Wednesday, Nov. 2 after the Palisadian-Post went to print.
While some Advisory Board members encouraged the public to consider the benefits of such an exchange, other Palisadians voiced immediate opposition to the deal, claiming that it wasn’t fair to rec center regulars who already struggled to find parking at the location.
Park Director Erich Haas told the Post that the 22 spots would come from the first 11 spaces on either side of the upper lot. These 22 spaces represent a little more than a fifth of the publicly available rec center parking, which has 95 spaces (not including eight handicap spots and three for staff).
Haas suspects that these spots—the closest to nearby shopping and offices—are often used for illegal day parking by non-park users anyway.
The spaces would only be reserved for Seven Arrows teachers and staff from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on school days.
This would be a welcome alternative for the staff, who lost their reserved parking in the Alma Real garage, and now have to park at the bottom of Temescal Canyon Road and take a shuttle van or public transportation from there to work each day.
Seven Arrows would pay dearly for the new convenience.
Haas told the Post that they’d pay a daily permit fee for each of the reserved spaces, and that they’ve also offered further financial contributions for equipment and upkeep. Online, advisory board members said these additional contributions could exceed $3,000.
Seven Arrows representatives were expected to clarify the amount at Wednesday’s meeting.
The rec center has had documented funding issues, with most of the money it generates going to a general fund downtown rather than staying local to help with improvements.
Local reaction to the potential deal has been mixed.
“A private business problem is not a public problem,” wrote one local on the hyper-local social networking site Nextdoor. “It is a public park.”
“As a frequent user of the park, there are many times when parking is non-existent, especially with the lack of parking available to the rest of the businesses in the Palisades,” added another local.
Park Advisory Board members Lynn Hylen and Madeline Hyman welcomed all interested Palisadians to attend last night’s meeting (held at 7 p.m. in the center’s small gym) with their questions and comments.
They encouraged those who could not attend to email Haas with their thoughts.
The director said he’s received the emails and will take them into account, along with public comments at the meeting and the thoughts of his advisory board.
“I just want to hear back from what the community thinks,” Haas assured. “These emails are great, keep them coming.”
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