But the number of visitors during the sport seasons has plummeted due to scant parking spaces, according to some city officials. “That number has decreased significantly,” Councilmember Luis Ayala said at a city council meeting on March 14. He said there were over 1,000 children registered to play soccer or baseball four to five years ago. Now, “It’s 700 or 800 [children registered] for soccer and even lower than that for baseball," said Ayala, "because people can’t stand driving around to find parking”. The city wants to improve access to the park by upping the parking capacity.
The park has three existing parking lots with 161 spaces. Since last year the city has been discussing options on parking construction at Almansor. The one option that has aroused the most objection is a proposal to bulldoze the lawn bowling greens, relocate the tennis courts to the lawn bowling area, then build a multi-level parking structure on the tennis court area. This option is expected to add around 300 parking spaces.
(Alexander Jay Rivest, a local resident who lives next to the park, made this timelapse video to demonstrate the occupancy of the parking spaces at Almansor during a eight-day period from Feb 11 to Feb 19.)
Some residents argue that there are enough parking spaces on the street, and that there aren't enough regular visitors at Almansor to warrant a new parking structure. They are also concerned that a structure will be unsightly and may jeopardize property value. “The park is great [how] it is,” said a resident who lives next to the park, and declined to reveal her name. She said that a parking structure benefits only the visitors, but not nearby residents. “I don’t want to turn it into the Staples Center. When the games are going on, people will come and leave, but we live there,” she said.
Members from the ABC are concerned that their bowling greens will be bulldozed. City officials have noted that the majority of members of the ABC are not Alhambra residents. The ABC, in turn, say that their group is an active and multicultural club that brings people and money from surrounding communities into Alhambra. They argue that, by removing the greens, the city will do itself a great disservice “The city should be proud that it provides a public good that most cities don’t offer. That’s why there are so many people coming from other cities and joining us,” said Sean McMorris, a member of the ABC.
The Source has contacted Martin Ray, director of community services at the Parks & Recreation Department, on multiple occasions to ask about the progress of the proposal. We have not received a response. Christopher Paulson, director of administrative services, said in an email that the city is still analyzing the situation, and that there is no new information available.
At the Mar 14 council meeting Ayala added that the city is still working on a preferred option to increase access at Almansor. “It’s not about putting one activity over the other,” said Ayala, referring to lawn bowling. “We are really trying to figure out how to maximize our park.”
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An earlier version of this piece said there are three parking lots with 97 spaces at Almansor Park. This was incorrect. Almansor Park has a total of 161 parking spaces available in the three lots combined, according to Martin Ray, director of community services at the Parks & Recreation Department, who reported this at the Alhambra City Council adjoured regular meeting in 2015. We appologize for this error.