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Residents Split Over Roxbury Park Community Center Project

Some favor renovating the structure, while others want it torn down and rebuilt.

The City Council held a public meeting Thursday to hear residents' concerns regarding plans to modernize the .

At times emotionally charged, the special meeting called by Mayor Barry Brucker lasted more than four hours, with attendees sharing a diverse range of views on how the community center should be restored.

In December the council  that came in over the $14.7 million budgeted for the project. Brucker stressed that Thursday's meeting, the latest in a dating back to 2006, would start with a "clean slate." 

"The goal tonight is not to be hearing from your council colleagues," he said. "The goal is that your council colleagues—all council colleagues—want to hear from you."

While no definitive plans for the new facility were finalized, the residents who filled Council Chambers to capacity responded frankly, at times calling out council members for past decisions.

"It seems almost impossible not to discuss some of the many mistakes and lessons we've learned over the more than five years of endless meetings, revisions, architects, plans, interest groups and money, lots of money for designs and plans the community didn't want," Southwest Homeowners Association President Ken Goldman said. "What are the lessons to be learned? First and foremost, listen to the community."

While some residents argued to keep costs low with renovations to the existing structure, others championed a complete overhaul of the facility. 

"I come to represent the seniors," said Winnie Hervey, president of the . "I want to impress upon the council that we need a new building. I hate to say this, but we're operating in a dump, and our seniors deserve a lot more than that."

Goldman, however, said that the community has advocated for "a remodel of the existing building to bring it up to code seismically, redo the bathrooms entirely, refurbish the interiors and expand the kitchen." He added that the city doesn't need another basketball court or a big expansion of the community center.

Resident Linda Roberts was another attendee who supported rebuilding the structure.

"By the time you patch and repair an old building ... for the same money you can build another facility," Roberts said. "It's time to come to some sort of compromise. The conditions at Roxbury are deplorable."

After listening to a variety of perspectives, Councilwoman Lili Bosse initiated the council's first response.

"I have heard you loud and clear," she said to residents at the meeting. "I think we all agree that Roxbury needs upgrading. I think the issue, as someone said earlier, is to what degree?"

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AJ Willmer January 28, 2012 at 02:27 PM
It is very appreciated that you provided and evenhanded news report on the Roxbury Park meeting.
WM GOLDSTEIN January 28, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Just say No. The park is just fine as it is. Re-seed the turf and put in a few more trees if need be but spend the money on schoolkids & the library!
Marie Cunningham (Editor) January 29, 2012 at 03:52 AM
Thank you for your comment Mr. Willmer. We do our best at Patch to provide balanced, unbiased reporting.
Barry Brucker January 30, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Thank you to our citizens for participating and expressing your vision for Roxbury Park. The diversity of opinions ranged from "do nothing" to "build new but keep the same mass and scale" to "build in as many programmatic options within budget". We were also able to assure the community that the mis-leading information by the Courier Publisher, "that Roxbury's Community Center would compete with our 5 star hotel banquet rooms...compete with LA LIVE and Staples Center & that contracts were signed and it was a done deal" was patently false. In keeping with standard protocol, Rec and Parks Council Liaisons (Brien/Gold) were assigned to meet with architects, staff, residents and other interested parties to recommend a new project to the full council. Rest assured, the Public will have many more opportunities to weigh in on these developments. Roxbury will be designed to maximize green space, offer updated and ADA approved amenities and responsible programmatic services to meet the needs of our seniors, teens, pre-school and residents in a neighborhood sensitive way. Cudos to our community for expressing their vision for Roxbury and respecting the diverse opinions of their fellow citizens. Barry Brucker, Mayor

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