Adult center moves ahead

CITY HALL — Construction on the long-awaited replacement for the Adult Recreation Center could break ground as soon as May if the City Council on Tuesday moves ahead with a proposed $7.92-million contract to build the 19,100-square-foot facility.

More than a decade in the works, the single-story building would roughly double the size of the existing center and significantly redevelop the block bordered by Brand Boulevard, Colorado, Louise and Harvard streets.

As more baby boomers enter the upper age brackets, the existing Adult Recreation Center, which services the city's aging population with a number of low-cost programs, has struggled to keep up with demand, city officials said.

The fitness room has reached capacity, as has the dance club, Community Services Manager Carolyn Fuentes said. English-learning programs have doubled to four times a week to accommodate growing enrollment, she added.

“We're kind of bursting at the seams,” Fuentes said.

But one group's gain will be another's loss.

All four tennis courts at Central Park will be removed to make room for the new building on Louise Street, angering longtime users of the courts who argue there's already a shortage of recreational facilities in south Glendale.

“This is such a mismanagement and such a misuse,” said Robert O'Sullivan, an avid tennis player who has used the courts for years.

Players were notified that the courts are scheduled to be shut down April 5, he said. Temporary office trailers have already arrived on-site to accommodate city offices during construction. And funding for the project is waiting in the banks.

Faced with those developments, O'Sullivan acknowledged the futility of any last protest.

“It's pretty much a done deal; what can we do?” he said. “It's pretty upsetting.”

Parks officials are finalizing plans to relocate the same number of courts at other facilities.

Still, even some on the City Council — which unanimously approved an additional $2 million in redevelopment money last year to close the project's funding gap — have bemoaned the loss at Central Park.

“I am unhappy with the layout,” said Councilman Dave Weaver, who had pushed for rooftop tennis courts on the new building. “I'd kill it tomorrow if I could, but the train has left the station.”

Despite the grumbles, the project is poised to move forward Tuesday after several delays in design and funding that have spanned more than a decade.

The proposed contract for the project, which includes extensive landscaping, demolition of the existing center and patio and trellis areas, is about $1 million less than what city engineers had estimated. And there is still roughly $4.2 million left in the budget for other site improvements and the building's interior, according to a city report.

Of the total $12.15-million budget, $2.8 million is in the form of county grants.

If the City Council approves the construction contract Tuesday, work would start in May and be completed by the end of 2010, officials said.

The redeveloped block would then be primed for grander concept plans to link the revised Central Park area with the Central Library and a possible “green corridor” out to Brand Boulevard across from the Americana at Brand.

Those plans are still in the concept stage and would require further direction from the City Council, said Dave Ahern, project manager of capital improvements for the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department.

The City Council will take up the contract at its meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers, City Hall, 613 E. Broadway.

QUESTION

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?JASON WELLS covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at jason.wells@latimes.com.

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