Jan 25 2013

City Council To Consider All Proposals on East Wing of Magnolia

Alternatives to staff childcare proposal will be considered –

At the January 22 City Council meeting, staff presented a proposal to use 801 Magnolia’s East Wing, former Sunday School Room of the Christian Science Church, as a childcare facility.  The City Council responded with a request for further information from staff and an intention to hear alternative proposals from community groups on other community uses.  Presentations from interested community groups will be reviewed in March and/or early April.

Many ideas for use of the space in the East Wing, adjacent to the Piedmont Center for the Arts,  have been offered for this underutilized section of the building.

Languishing as a fallow and neglected building for almost a decade, the Arts Center was transformed last year into an attractive, popular venue in the heart of Piedmont, boasting more than 10,000 visits to art exhibits and events in its first year.   The East Wing of the building, however, is still used for storage by the City and has not been renovated, except for the addition of restrooms built and paid for by the Arts Center.  Many feel that a compatible use for the East Wing is important to the viability and continuing success of the Arts Center.

At the Jan. 22 Council meeting, staff acknowledged that some potential uses, aside from their recommendation of a childcare facility, would be possible.  However, staff has been proceeding with childcare plans prior to any public input, despite urging in the past by numerous civic leaders (see statements by public officials and commission members).   Questions by Council members on the demand for more childcare facilities or numbers of children on a waiting list were not fully answered, while staff reiterated their desire to set up a City program run by the Recreation Department.  Free childcare for staff members would be made available.

During discussion, Council members requested staff to come back with cost and revenue figures of the childcare proposal. They deferred any action until interested community groups have the opportunity to provide presentations on alternative uses in March or early April.  Presentation details were not specified.  (Questions may be referred to City staff, who often provide informal assistance and guidance to groups presenting proposals to the Council.)    Revenue and cost projections were indicated as  pivotal to any final decision on use.

Some of the alternatives mentioned at the Council meeting were:

– Allow the space to be booked by the Arts Center for activities of various Piedmont community groups

– Use the facility as a senior/adult center

Not discussed at the meeting were: the possible use of Regional Park Measure WW Bond Funds (totaling over $500,000 available to Piedmont) for use on the facility, Piedmont’s significant senior population, priorities for use of City resources, verified need for additional childcare facilities, or programs for adults.

One Response to “City Council To Consider All Proposals on East Wing of Magnolia”

  1. Discussion of WW is for another day but long overdue. I raised this point at Council – are there public/private dual-use activities that put this space to it’s best use? Art studio space that can be used by the city weekdays and the Art Center or other groups in the evening/weekends? Are there art/theater/music needs of PUSD or other groups that can be servd by this space? Staff cited the need for two-working families to have day-care but what type of care will be provided in this space? Schoolmates goes from 7:30 to 6:00 to accomodate working families – will the art center space be operated this way? If day care organizations can provide these hours then I think that would serve community needs better that partial day-time hours.

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