Alhambra City Council to announce Almansor Park improvements on Monday

The Alhambra City Council Monday, July 25 meeting at 7 pm is expected to include a presentation on a variety of planned enhancements for the city’s parks. According to the City Council's meeting agenda, these project options would include a parking structure at Almansor Park, which has been controversial since the city announced the proposal in February.

The project has been in discussion since last year, when Martin Ray, the director of community services at the Parks and Recreation Department, told the City Council on May 12, 2015 that a two-story parking structure could provide 400 spaces and reduce traffic congestion around Almansor Park. Councilmember Luis Ayala said during a March 14, 2016 City Council meeting that soccer and baseball sign-ups had been negatively impacted by the lack of parking at Almansor Park.

The July 25 meeting agenda mentions the option of a one-story parking structure where the North and South parking lots and tennis courts are. 

Several residents told the Alhambra Source that the only advance notification they had received of this project was from a postcard left on their doorsteps inviting them to a February 11, 2016 meeting of the Parks and Recreation Commission. The residents who attended that meeting asked about the cost of the structure, the impact it would have on the neighborhood, and whether any studies had been done to ascertain such an impact.

Some residents say they found out about the parking structure project from this postcard left on their doorsteps

A few residents dispute the notion of a lack of parking spaces. “I was so shocked that they were saying more parking was needed, because I live right across from a parking lot, and it’s empty 99.9 percent of the time,” said Alex Rivest. Rivest has also looked into the health and crime hazards risks associated with parking structures, and has raised the question of how the city plans on mitigating such potential risks.

The Alhambra Bowls Club has also raised significant opposition to the parking structure. During the May 2015 meeting, the City Council had discussed tearing down the tennis courts at Almansor Park to build this structure, and then rebuilding those courts on the club’s lawn bowling greens. But it wasn’t until months later that most of the Bowls Club found out about the project, “through rumors and backchannels,” as the club's vice president Sean McMorris characterized it. McMorris wrote an opinion article for the Alhambra Source on June 28, 2016, advocating for the club and its lawn bowling greens.

According to the City Council agenda, the Almansor Park presentation will include discussion of redesigning the area around the gymansium to include a lawn bowling green, as well as other facilities and amenities. "It should be noted that none of these options call for the complete removal of lawn bowling from Almansor Park," the agenda reads.

Some members of the Emmaus Lutheran Church also oppose the parking structure. "If they go ahead and build it, it will be 50 feet from our 7th and 8th grade classrooms," said Cecilia Dodd, a longtime member of the church, who currently serves on the church's school board. "We are concerned about safety, the type of people that it will draw, the noise, the gas-like fumes."

Brian Otis, the church's council president, told the Alhambra Source of negotiations that Emmaus Lutheran Church has engaged in with the City of Alhambra to lease one or both of the church's parking lots. Otis said that the church was willing lease the spaces at no cost, but that the city would have to take on resurfacing the asphalt, and that some members were hoping that this compromise would be in lieu of building the parking structure.

Some church members support both the structure and leasing the church lots to the city. "If you go to the park around 7:00 in the evening, it's challenging, if there's a couple of baseball games going on, a couple of soccer games going on, and you just want to go walk on the park course," said Sandra Needs-Ramirez, another member of the Emmaus Lutheran Church. She and her husband, Ralph Ramirez, support working with the City so that their parking needs are met, along with the church's needs and that of the residents.

Leasing the Emmaus Lutheran Church parking lots is also an option mentioned on the City Council agenda.

At the February Parks and Recreation meeting, Ray said a contract would be awarded in May, with an environmental impact study to be conducted first and construction to begin after July 8. Chris Paulson, the city’s public information officer, said this week that after additional consideration and input from the City Council and from the public, the city staff has worked on other options. Residents can learn more about the parking structure and other improvements under discussion by reading item three on the City Council agenda. 

11 thoughts on “Alhambra City Council to announce Almansor Park improvements on Monday”

  1. My conclusion is that a parking structure will encourage more people from out of town to come here, and I prefer that the park be used by mostly residents of the city if possible.

    This park is walking distance for a large portion of the city. I think it’s best if we keep it that way. Not to mention the fact that a parking structure would be very unsightly.

    As some of you may know, I am in full favor of the development on Main street and it is really turning out nice, but when it comes to our parks, I prefer to leave them as is.

    Note: I have not really looked at all the details regarding this issue, but I wonder if the owners of Almansor Court are possibly behind this in some way since they have weddings and banquets etc on their site which is right next to the park. Not sure if they may involved in this or not. We also have a golf course here, so there is alot of factors at play I think.

  2. As I’ve said time & time again, the only way to stop this city council is TO THROW THE BUMS OUT…they simply REFUSE to listen to citizen’s complaints and do not represent Alhambra residents!!! While at it, FIRE MARTIN RAY who instead of trying to protect Alhambra’s green spaces, supports the building if thaT UGLY HUGE PARKING STRUCTURE THAT WILL TAKE AWAY MORE GREEN SPACE.

  3. I think part of the parking problem lately is due to Pokemon hunting. One can see many game-players there every night that one did not see before. And the dog problem is due to the City’s failure to enforce the law. In addition to feeding the birds, people skate, bike, etc in the park. The City managers either are blind or turn a blind eye to all these activities, which were publicized here in Alhambra Source before. That says something about their problem-solving skills, especially in light of their proposed park “improvement.” They don’t want to work hard on every-day stuff like fixing the broken lights at the park, stopping people from bringing dogs etc; instead they want to do those high-profile expensive things that bring themselves greater job satisfaction and challenges (and maybe payraises and bonuses)– at the taxpayers’ expense. Unfortunately I do not know whether that is also the case with the 710 extension.

  4. A parking structure isn’t a panacea and may not solve the problems they’re attempting to address.

  5. I think part of the parking problem lately is due to Pokemon hunting. One can see many game-players there every night that you did not see before. And the dog problem is due to the City’s failure to enforce the law. In addition to feeding the birds, people skate, bike, etc in the park. The City managers either are blind or turn a blind eye to all these activities, which were publicized here in Alhambra Source before. That says something about their problem-solving skills, especially in light of their proposed park “improvement.” They don’t want to work hard on every-day stuff like fixing the broken lights at the park, stopping people from bringing dogs etc; instead they want to do those high-profile expensive things that bring themselves greater job satisfaction and challenges (and maybe payraises and bonuses)– at the taxpayers’ expense. Unfortunately I do not know whether that is also the case with the 710 extension.

  6. Given how disruptive some of these plans could be to us residents that live at Almansor park, it would be wonderful if the city would take the time to engage us and work with us to work towards ideas that can satisfy needs (and by needs, I say demonstratable needs) as well as please the local residents. It is the residents that have to deal with the results of these potential overhauls every day, all day.

    The parking proposal from Emmaus seems like a great option for the city to take, given how inexpensive it is and then see if additional parking is necessary. There are over 150 parking spots being offered just for the city to repave the lots. Common sense and smart allocation of city funds suggest this is the best and least disruptive option for the immediate future.

    After we all understand the new equilibrium established after these cheap spots have been opened to the public, a proper study can put numbers behind what the actual demand is, when that demand is truly at its peak and we can all go forward trying to figure out a plan that satisfies these now demonstrated needs. That and the new city manager can get his hands dirty and work with those who live here to find the solution to meet those needs.

    This is how the city should be engaging with the community on these types of projects anyways.

    Again, I point everyone to the 8-day timelapse video I took overlooking the parking lot south of the tennis courts. Over that 8 day period, the maximum capacity at the park was 46%.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TGxeZRj5Yg

    Additionally, I point the readers here to a poll taken by Alhambra Souce, asking its readers if additional parking was necessary at the park. 142 people responded, 86% said: “There are enough parking spots.”

    We do not need additional parking. If we do, there is a great proposal the city should take. Rather than just saying “we do need more parking,” or relying on individual instances when they had to circle a bit, CONDUCT A STUDY OF THE ACTUAL DEMAND and figure out the next steps after that.

    http://www.alhambrasource.org/news/readers-speak-out-proposed-almansor-p

    Here is to hoping the city engage the community for solutions that have direct implications on our lives, investments, and sanity.

  7. For those who want more parking in Almansor Park, I get it. The park gets busy. But I would hope that people seriously consider the costs of additional parking and why parking is an issue in Almansor Park to begin with.

    There is a very strong case that Almansor park is OVER-used, and additional parking will only increase its usage and contribute to a slew of negative consequences such as increased traffic, noise, greenhouse gas, pollution, and crime in a park that the city does not actively police, as well as the destruction of park assets and the lowering of property values in the area.

    Simply adding more parking does not address the root cause of congestion at Almansor Park, which is a lack of park green space in the City. Rather than make Almansor Park even busier than it already is, why not create more park space all across the city? Do Alhambra’s residents not deserve this? Do you enjoy fighting crowds at Almansor Park? I don’t.

    That said, if the city can find a way to increase parking at Almansor Park in a way that addresses all of the affected parties’ concerns then I could get behind the idea. But the city will need to reach out to all these parties and work them to find a solution that is amicable to everyone. I hope the city will take the time to do this.

    And for those who are for a parking structure, ask yourselves if you would be in favor of that parking structure if you lived across the street and had to wake up every morning to look at it. There are other solutions to Almansor Parks parking issues than building a parking structure.

  8. I was there this last Sunday late afternoon into the evening. Parking IS an issue.

    The other issues are – people bringing their dogs despite it being illegal and also people bringing bags of food to feed the animals, even though that is illegal as well.

    1. Hi Joseph,

      More parking will likely increase the number of people who bring dogs to the park and feed park animals, and it will further overcrowd an already very crowded Almansor Park.

    2. Linda Trevillian

      I’ve never understood why Alhambra prohibits dogs from its parks. And, I admit to bringing my dog to several of our parks. I always keep her on her leash, and I always carry a bag or two in case she decides to leave a ‘contribution.” And I always put the bag, which I’ve secured by tying a knot in it, in a trash can. My dog does no harm to the parks and enjoys her visits as much as anyone’s children . . . and other dogs that I regularly see. Sometimes we take her to Lacey Park in San Marino, which allows dogs. I’ve never seen waste or any damage that dogs could have caused there, either.

      As far as the parking structure is concerned, there IS NO NEED for one. Alex Rivest earlier posted a time-lapse video that showed, over a period of days and various open park hours, that the lots were NEVER full. Plus there’s ample parking at the Lutheran church and the restaurant-banquet-golf course facility, the former south of the park, and the latter adjoining it on the north.

      HUD funds are required to be spent on projects that benefit lower-income citizens and families. Embellishing the parks’ facilities is what is needed (as well as more ESL classes, affordable housing, rest facilities for hot days like today) and the like. A parking structure would fulfill NONE of these needs.

      1. Linda, you do understand why Alhambra prohibits dogs from its parks, don’t you? You said yourself that you always keep your dog on leash, and a bag or two. You then certainly understand that there are people who do not do what you do. I did witness a dog owner let her dog poo on the grass at Almansor Park and shamelessly walk away. You may not have seen dog waste at Almansor and Lacey Parks but you definitely see it on sidewalks, don’t you? And I was bitten by a dog, which was on leash, at an Animal Blessing event at a Catholic church several years ago. Dogs are potentially dangerous animals. Yes, I am sure your dog don’t bite; but there are others. Shame on the people who break the laws as well as those who do not enforce the laws.

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