The City Council gave direction at Tuesday’s Study Session on what site plan to use for construction of the new Roxbury Park Community Center.
Out of four options presented by architectural firm RTK, the council consensus supported the City Council-Recreation and Parks Commission liaison committee’s recommendation of “Site Study D.” The plan calls for the following:
- Community center moves slightly south from its current location.
- Outdoor regulation-size basketball court is changed to an east-west orientation.
- Sand volleyball courts, tennis courts, practice wall, open space and mature trees maintained.
- Reroutes storm drain at estimated cost of $250,000.
The elements of the proposed facility have been developed but are not yet finalized. The entire footprint of the new one-story building, including the courtyard and a multipurpose room that can accommodate a middle school-size basketball court, is approximately 24,400 square feet, according to RTK. The building would be the same distance from the street as the old building and have three entrances: one from the parking site on the south, one from Roxbury Drive and one from the park. The courtyard would only be accessible from within the facility.
Whether or not to include a middle school-size basketball court in the multipurpose room is still being debated. If the council approves building the indoor court, the multipurpose room would be 5,140 square feet with a ceiling height that clears 20 feet. If plans for the court are scrapped, the room would be about 4,500 square feet with a height between 15 feet 7 inches and 17 feet 11 inches.
Philip Asherian, commissioner of the Beverly Hills Basketball League, told the council during the public comment period that a lack of court space in the community is already affecting the youth basketball program.
“Most recently Beverly Hills High School, where we hold our games, just informed us that they want to take away our Saturday morning gym times, which will affect about 400 kids in Beverly Hills,” he said. “My message to you is simple: basketball as a sport is a way to keep the kids occupied; engaged. It’s a great program. It keeps everyone happy. The parents are happy. This multipurpose room can become a great asset for Beverly Hills’ kids.”
Speaking in opposition to the indoor court was Rose Norton.
“The whole reason for the multipurpose room is not clear in my head except for people to play basketball,” she told the council. “I don’t think in this economy we can afford to build over 5,000 square feet, take away park land so that we have more basketball courts when the city already pays the school district a great deal of money to use its [basketball] facilities.”
Joshua Metzger, a resident with two children aged 10 and 7, countered that gyms at the city’s schools are not suitable substitutes for a community center basketball court.
“I have heard the arguments from some that we have our public schools for that,” he told the council. “But the facts belie that. Our public schools’ facilities are not available open-ended to the public and a fair amount of this city's children do not attend the public schools.”
Metzger noted that those opposed to building the indoor court “show no appreciation or consideration to the young and future generations of youth who will use our park regularly.”
When addressing the size of the multipurpose room, Mayor William Brien said he favored a larger space with higher ceilings that would accommodate better stage lighting. Councilmen Julian Gold and Barry Brucker said they could live without having an indoor court in the multipurpose room as long as the council supported Site Study D to get the project moving forward. Brucker said he does favor having a larger multipurpose room to accommodate a stage and special community events, like the senior Valentine’s Day dance.
Vice Mayor John Mirisch, however, remained adamant in his opposition to the indoor middle school-size court.
"They’re looking to really take this and run with it and use it as much as possible,” Mirisch said of the Beverly Hills Basketball League. “Having league games there would change the character of the park. Playing pick-up games, continuing pick-ups games, the way we have it now, I don’t think that does. When you intensify the park like that, parking does become an issue.”
Mirisch said that he would also like to study an option proposed by Councilwoman Lili Bosse, referred to at the meeting as “Site Study E.” That plan calls for taking the elements of Site Study D, but placing the community center over the footprint of the existing building, which could eliminate the need to reroute the storm drain at a cost of $250,000. Both Mirisch and Bosse said they could support Site Study D as long as Site Study E was studied as an option.
Do you think the Roxbury Park Community Center should have a middle school-size basketball court? Tell us in the comments section below.