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Almansor Park parking structure loses steam at city council meeting

The City of Alhambra presented options to expand parking and make other improvements at Almansor Park during Monday's city council meeting. At this meeting, residents and some city council members spoke out against a parking structure.

The improvement options included keeping the current number of parking spaces at Almansor Park at 161, expanding the surface lots to increase the amount of parking to 237 spots and contracting with the neighboring Emmaus Lutheran Church to use their parking lots. Martin Ray, Director of Community Services at Alhambra's Parks and Recreation Department, also presented an option to build a one-level parking structure that would expand the amount of parking to 400 spots, a project that has proven controversial among Alhambra residents. 

The one-level parking structure would include the surface level plus another level, clarified Ray. He also presented a plan to redesign the area in the park around the gymnasium to fit a new lawn bowling court, as well as tennis and basketball courts, and better amenities, including lighting. 

Residents turned out to speak out against the parking structure, predicting that it would attract crime and increase congestion around the park. Some questioned how good a job the presentation did in actually demonstrating a need for more parking at Almansor Park. 

People who lived in Alhambra also questioned the intention to use federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for this project, which is traditionally earmarked to benefit low and moderate income residents. The City had dedicated a little over $7 million from the recent sale of Fremont Plaza to the CDBG program. On Monday night, Mayor Barbara Messina explained that the money in question had to be spent on a capital project.

Councilmember Stephen Sham said that based on the presentation and community comments, the best course of action seemed to be to negotiate with the Emmaus Lutheran Church over leasing their parking lots, one of which has 60 spaces, and the other of which has 80. He also called on the city to find potential better uses for the CDBG money before making a final decision on whether to expand parking at Almansor Park.

Mayor Messina and Councilmember Luis Ayala said that they were not in favor of the parking structure. Councilmembers Steven Placido and Gary Yamauchi said that they did not want to make a decision until they saw a more complete presentation of the options. At the end, the city council directed Martin Ray to put together such a presentation, which he would give at a city council meeting scheduled for Aug. 22.

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4 thoughts on “Almansor Park parking structure loses steam at city council meeting”

  1. Linda Trevillian

    I, too, was pleased to see the parking structure proposal lose support at the city council meeting last Monday night. It is not needed; it is by far the most expensive of the options that were presented; the entire idea has been a waste of time for more than a year now. Of course (!) renting and utilizing the Emmaus Lutheran Church parking lots is the best option (most economical and most sensible), and it was gratifying to see that at least one city councilmember recognizes that. Like Alex Rivest, I hope that the City Manager and Mr. Ray will do some research to see what other cities are doing with HUD/CDBG funds.

    I look forward to the next discussion at the August 22 city council meeting.

  2. “He also presented a plan to … and better amenities, including lighting.” Before anything, Parks and Recreation should look at why it takes so long for the broken lights at Almansor Park be fixed. Are the employees too lazy? Were the lights improperly installed? Did they buy some cheap and unreliable light bulbs? … Martin Ray needs to correct things that should have been corrected before planning anything.

  3. There is something special about this park. I am glad to hear that the council is taking a slow approach.

  4. It was great to see so many concerned residents show up last night and make their voices heard. I am so happy to hear Mr. Sham bring up the idea that there may be better, more creative, more effective ways to use the CDBG funds and that he has asked for a proposal that includes alternatives to simply wanting more parking.

    There are some cities that use this money very effectively, and hopefully, the City Manager and Mr. Ray will spend some time reaching out to cities that have utilized this money in ways that are more in line with the HUD/CDBG national objectives. We do not want to see this money lost, but we do want it to be used on programs and capital projects that are proven to be effective. Kudos to Mr. Sham for taking the focus away unneeded parking projects and towards potentially more impactful programs for our community. Let us all encourage this type of thought.

    To back up the point about additional parking at Almansor Park. Martin Ray’s presentation included a study of parking at Almansor Park and demonstrated what many of us have been saying all along: there isn’t a need for ANY additional parking. Now, even the city’s own data suggests that money should be spent elsewhere…