HomeCity NewsCitizens Forming Opinions on San Marino Center Project

Citizens Forming Opinions on San Marino Center Project

City residents had their first chances this week to weigh in on what they envision for a remodeled San Marino Center, and will continue to have opportunities through early September.
Depending on how satisfied the City Council is with what Crane Architectural Services produces after these outreach opportunities, it may direct the firm to finalize its proposal on Sept. 9. In the meantime, residents will be able to take video tours of the building, preview renderings at an Aug. 24 virtual town hall meeting and listen in on the Planning Commission’s evaluation of the proposal on Aug. 26.
City officials discussed the project at a virtual town hall on Monday and again at the subsequent Public Safety Commission meeting. The work will involve redesigning much of the interior, bringing the structure up to code and potentially aesthetically modifying the exterior to some extent.
“It is much simpler to refresh the exterior and move interior walls around to improve the facility,” explained Parks and Public Works Director Michael Throne at the town hall.

Though she praised the usefulness of the video tours, resident Joyce Batnij, a member of the city’s Design Review Committee, wondered if the city might be able to arrange in-person visits in spite of the coronavirus pandemic. These would give people a better idea of space, she said, especially for those who aren’t particularly familiar with the building.
“I understand there are limitations at this time, but I was wondering if there will be any opportunity to actually go and get a tour in person,” she said. “A lot of these places I’ve never seen before. I’ve lived here most of my life and if I haven’t seen most of these rooms, I doubt the majority of residents have.”
Throne said his department was exploring how to make that happen in the context of social distancing and sanitizing frequently touched surfaces.
“We’re still looking into what kinds of things we can do to get people there and experience it,” he said. “You can certainly walk around it, but as far as the interior and keeping people healthy, we haven’t found a way to do it yet.
“In the meantime,” Throne added, “we’re going to do a lot of videos.”
The renovated center, which was built in 1952 as the original home of the San Marino Woman’s Club, will primarily house the city’s Recreation Department and host many of its functions. City officials hope to make the space attractive enough for event rentals and use by other community groups, too.
“We’re hoping to make it an attractive space for other community groups to consider hosting their events there, too, perhaps pulling some traffic away from the Barth Room” at Crowell Public Library, City Manager Marcella Marlowe said.
Given the building’s proximity to the library, some residents have expressed a desire to make tweaks to the San Marino Center to make it look more like the library.
“I feel it’s important that this building needs to connect to the library, being that it’s right next door to it, so it needs to reflect a lot of the architectural details,” resident Jennifer Giles said.
Throne said repairs are expected to address water leakage issues that appear to be linked to the roof. The building’s heating and air-conditioning systems will be overhauled as well, and sewage lines will be improved. Seismic bracing also will be added.
The stage will “absolutely” remain, Throne said, as will a sectioned-off area where San Marino police officers periodically rest between shifts.
“We have asked that a space remain for them in this facility, because there is no space for them at all in the police station,” Police Chief John Incontro told the Public Safety Commission on Monday.
Dennis Kneier, a former city councilman, wondered if it was too late for the city to consider tearing the center down and building a new one; Marlowe indicated that was unlikely and it has “never been a path that this council has walked down.”
“Frankly, the old library was in better condition than the San Marino Center, and the city made the decision to start over again and now we have a nice new library,” Kneier added. “I’m just a little fearful that we’re putting lipstick on a pig here.”
Virtual-tour videos and presentations on the revamped Recreation Department can be viewed at cityofsanmarino.org.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=3]