Fullerton City Council will consider a proposal at their May 17 meeting to lease the Maple Neighborhood Center to an Orange-based non-profit called The Friendly Center.
The proposed lease agreement is $1 per year. It is expected to save the city $67,000 in General Fund savings, as the Friendly Center will offer a variety of neighborhood services previously offered by the City.
The Maple Center has remained closed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. If the City re-opens the center as a City-run rental facility, it would need approximately $135,000 in staffing and building costs, less any rental revenue, according to a staff report.
Earlier this year, a City Council majority voted to cut the budget by 2.5%.
During public comment at the May 3 City Council meeting, resident Kitty Jaramillo said, “The neighborhood was caught by surprise when we heard the community center was no longer going to be available to Fullerton residents [for rental]… Whether it be Lemon Park or the Maple community center, the surrounding residents love it…Please save our community center. This is probably the most used of all our community centers.”
The Parks and Recreation Department has operated the Maple Center since 1945. Over the years, the center has offered programs for seniors, after school and summer programs for youth, gang prevention programs, social services, document assistance, and recreation classes. (Some of these services have since transferred to the Fullerton Community Center.)
Improvements were made to the Maple Center in 2011 with City redevelopment funds. Prior to the pandemic, the Center was a popular venue for residents to rent for weddings, quincañeras, and other community events. Through such rentals, gross revenue was $68,000 in 2019.
The Friendly Center has said they can offer private rentals in a portion of the Maple Center during their operational hours but not after hours.
The Center has proposed to offer free programs and services to the public, focusing on Fullerton residents and the community surrounding Lemon Park.
They estimate serving 1,000 individuals at the Maple Center, at a value of $350,000 during their first year of operation.
The proposed lease agreement is for five years.
City Council meeting will take place at 5:30pm at City Hall, 303 W. Commonwealth Ave. Residents may attend and make comments in person or via Zoom.
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