$10M Robertson Rec Center Rebuild

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Contributors: Jamie Contreras, Joseph.Galloway Frank & Julie Ryan, Sandy Block & Melissande Colton

 

The Robertson Recreation Center, at the corner of Preuss Road and Airdrome Street, is receiving a 10-million dollar rebuild. This project proposes a new neighborhood community center and gymnasium and is set to begin construction in 2016. The project is financed by several sources, including the City of Los Angeles, as well as Proposition K funding, an assessment passed by Los Angeles voters to enhance the City’s infrastructure of youth-based facilities. While the funds have been earmarked for the Rec Center
for years, the City is now under fire to execute. City agencies must obtain the necessary approvals before the end of 2015 or the funds will disappear.

The site is an attenuated triangle that is bounded on one side by busy Robertson Boulevard, on another side by residential homes on Preuss Road, and surrounded by a perimeter of mature “Paperbark” (Melaleuca) trees. Both the trees and the size of the space have presented limited opportunities for the large
rectangular volume required for a basketball gymnasium and other needs of the facility. Indeed, the City Engineer, Jaime Contreras, and Kevin Daly Architect have faced many challenges to create a facility that is modern, addresses traffic, noise and safety issues, and all the while providing infrastructure to service
the community needs. Because the project faces both Robertson Boulevard and Crestview Neighborhood, the Crestview Neighborhood Association (CNA) has been advocating for features that will address the needs of local residents.

There will be a lot of changes to the existing facility. To summarize, the gymnasium will be rebuilt and moved slightly north. Four north-facing trusses span the gym and will be glazed with north facing, clerestory windows to provide natural daylight to the court, minimizing the need for artificial lighting during day
activities. There will be two community rooms, an office and a reception area, and storage and mechanical rooms. A food warming area has also been included in one of the community rooms. The new gym building has a 30’ interior clearance and is organized around an outdoor regulation basketball court. There will also be another outdoor one-half size court.

The area adjacent to the existing Child Care Center/Multi-Purpose Building is a protected, family oriented area. Due to limited funding the existing Child Care Center/Multi-Purpose Building will not be re-built. Instead, it will receive infrastructure improvements such as heat, air, etc., and it will be updated to
make it handicap accessible. Additionally, there will be an exercise area with new equipment to be purchased by Recreation & Parks. The facility will feature a new outdoor picnic area to include both grass and cement. There is also the addition of a 18 space parking lot, which has an access point to Preuss Road. As for the exterior walls of the park they will be clad in a corrugated, vertical metal paneling that
may be perforated and run across glazed areas admitting light while protecting the glass from vandalism. With the changes, the facility will no longer have a stage or full kitchen. This project hasn’t been free of controversy, particularly for those who live in Crestview. For CNA and many residents there has been disappointment about only recently being involved in the design plans. Having commenced the design stages nearly a decade ago, much of the groundwork has already taken place, making it difficult for Crestveiw to give input.

Since design discussions began years ago, Crestview has been told that the plans for the Rec Center have gone through multiple iterations. Some ideas that were considered, but ultimately rejected, include: building an underground parking lot, converting Preuss Road into a one way street, as well as rebuilding
the existing multi-purpose building. Due to financial, safety, or other reasons, such ideas were discarded.
Recently, Crestview residents have been more involved in the process. On October 27, 2014, at the most recent project meeting, the Department of Engineering and the Daly Architects Team made a presentation regarding the design plans and Crestview residents in attendance provided feedback. At that time, Local Volunteer Neighborhood Oversight Committee (LVNOC) was to approve the final plans. Upset that there was limited opportunity to provide input, CNA advocated and was able to secure postponing the vote so that Crestview could receive more information. Since then, Department of Recreation & Parks and Transportation raised new issues causing some of the plans to be “scrapped” and requiring the City to go back to the drawing board.

For this reason, the revised plans are only now being presented. The first presentation occurred on February 19, 2015. A flyer announcing this meeting was delivered to each Crestview door by CNA. City Engineer, Jaime Contreras gave a good slide presentation of the New Rec Center plans and provided a booklet of the actual plans for people to look at. Crestview turned out and lots people got up and voiced their concerns, many of which were that the versatility of the park was being reduced. Some of the questions raised were: “What happened to the LAPD Drop-in Center?” “What about the full service kitchen that generates revenue?” “Why are there no solar panel system in place?” “This construction is going to kill the Melaleuca trees.” “Why do we need so many basketball courts at the expense of picnic and play space?” “What about the stage?” and many more. A resident then stood up and listed the many, many uses the Crestview
neighborhood makes of the Rec Center and the many programsthat take place at the center. There was a moment of silence and surprise around the room. Mr. Jaime Contreras took lots of notes and hopefully will act on them. We will see. Following that meeting, CNA hosted its own meeting at the Robertson Rec Center
on March 3, 2015. To announce this meeting CNA delivered another flyer to each Crestview home. The goal was to collect ideas and concerns from residents and to communicate them to
the City. CNA and many residents, while excited about the project, have concerns about not being a part of the planning process and are upset that features that are important to Crestview are being omitted from the project. The City is having another meeting on Monday, March 9, 2015 at 7:00 p.m., at the Rec Center.

We urge you to attend to learn more and to provide feedback to the City Engineer (Jamie.Contreras@lacity.org) and to the Council Office of Paul Koretz (Joseph.Galloway@lacity.org, Jay.
Greenstein@lacity.org) or contact them directly. We are very excited about the new Rec Center and hope you will attend the March meeting to offer input to help make the facility suitable to the needs of Crestview.