Alhambra may not have enough money to renovate lawn bowling court

Lawn bowlers protest back in August to save their green. Photo by Cheri Cabot.

Location

Alhambra , CA United States

Lawn bowling in Alhambra is in danger of being shut down, after bids to renovate the lawn bowling court came in at a higher cost than expected.

Alhambra’s City Council directed staff to get new bids for the court to see if the cost would come in lower. They also asked staff to look into other uses for the lawn bowling area, as well as for the $200,000 set aside for lawn bowling renovations.

Members and supporters of the Alhambra Bowls Club packed City Council Chambers in support of renovating the green. They also characterized this development as another instance of limited city support for the Alhambra Bowls Club.

The City Council said they supported lawn bowling in Alhambra, but that the cost of renovation was too high and that the money set aside could benefit a wide swath of Alhambra residents.

The Alhambra City Council also voted unanimously to approve almost $2 million in HUD funds for other Almansor Park improvements. City staff originally planned to pay for the new court using federal funds as part of that project, but Department of Housing and Urban Development rules prevented them from doing that.

HUD money is tied to activities that benefit low and moderate income residents that live in the project area. Because the Alhambra Bowls Club had members from higher income areas, the lawn bowling court was ruled ineligible, said Assistant City Manager Jessica Binnquist.

The City then set aside $200,000 in general fund money for the project, but bids came in higher than expected. The lowest bid for an artificial turf came in at over $450,000 and a bid for natural turf at almost $300,000 with an ongoing maintenance cost.

Councilmember Stephen Sham suggested that the City solicit another round of bids to see if the cost comes in closer to $200,000. Alhambra Bowls Club Vice President Sean McMorris said that city staff should come to him to find contractors who could refurbish the green for less money, while Councilmember Luis Ayala suggested that the project be scaled down so that the bids might end up being more reasonable.

Alhambra Bowls members said that lawn bowling benefits people of all ages and genders, and that with a new green, they could grow membership, especially in Alhambra. They called out City Council members for their lack of support of lawn bowling, dating back to when the City proposed replacing the lawn bowling court with a 400-space parking structure.

“It seems like we’re always on an uphill struggle,” said Frank Duarte, Alhambra Bowls Club president. “We hope that tonight the great Solomon will touch your hearts and that you would make a decision for people who all they want to do is have a sport in Alhambra.”

1 thought on “Alhambra may not have enough money to renovate lawn bowling court”

  1. Linda Trevillian

    I attended that city council meeting last Monday evening. I heard various members of Alhambra Bowls state that they personally knew about bids that were much lower than the figures that the city claims. I’m sure that an acceptable bid can be secured. Maloney’s idea of pursuing other uses for that area is shameful. He apparently believes that EVERY other activity that occurs at Almansor Park must – and does – include more Alhambra residents than outsiders. Or maybe he’s against non-Alhambra residents altogether – but only if they want to lawn bowl. Who knows! Where’s the proof (I doubt that he could possibly provide any). The issue of the use of HUD funds being limited to activities that serve low- and moderate-income residents could be relevant. But, I’m certain that it doesn’t mean that EVERYONE who participates in an Almansor Park sport that is partially funded by these HUD funds must fall within that category. Or be residents of Alhambra. I have friends whose daughter and son participate in baseball and basketball leagues and whose games often are held at Almansor Park. They have NEVER lived in Alhambra; they formerly were Monterey Park residents, but they have lived in South Pasadena for the past few years. That obviously is true to all of the youth sports activities. So, that argument is flawed. The Alhambra Bowls members are good citizens. A promise was made to them, and it needs to be kept. And our city council, which is supposed to serve the city’s residents, needs to learn how to work with any group that proposes or opposes an action – not try to sneak something through without letting anyone know. Time to abandon that shameful practice. Time is now!

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