By Jason KUROSU
The supporters for a proposal for a new gymnasium at the Chamlian Armenian School addressed their latest obstacle Wednesday. Supporters of the proposed gym attempted to obtain a reduced parking permit, a necessity due to the number of parking spaces a gymnasium of that size would require. The school currently has 59 parking spaces and will have 61 spaces after the construction of the gym; the gymnasium would require a minimum of 147 parking spaces.
The public hearing, held at the Municipal Building in downtown Glendale, was attended by the two sides of the Chamlian gym debate: the supporters of the gym, mostly parents of students attending the school, and the residents living at or around Lowell and 2nd avenues (where Chamlian is located) who are opposed to the gym.
Issues over traffic and parking have been the key concerns surrounding the proposed gym from the denial of the gym proposal by the Glendale City Planning Commission in January to the approval of the gym by the Glendale City Council in June.
After Senior Planner Vilia Zemaitaitis reviewed comments made by different city departments on the gym, people in attendance were allowed to speak.
The gymnasium’s project consultant, Rodney Khan, spoke first and said that the new gymnasium would not increase traffic or parking problems.
“The gym will not create an increase in student enrollment or an increase in faculty,” Khan said.
Much of the concerns over parking as related to the gym are over a potential increase in cars parked around the neighborhood in the case of a special event at Chamlian.
To this point, Khan said, “Whenever an event occurs at the school, the school will have the capacity for an additional 100 spaces.”
The school plans to use its playground in the case of such events, utilizing the playground space to account for the 100 extra spaces. A parking attendant will also be available to monitor the parking at those events.
The school has stated that these events will largely be “cultural events,” and other such events that won’t utilize the gymnasium itself. When asked about the potential for sports tournaments being held at the gym, Khan said several times, “There will be no sports tournaments.
“This gymnasium is for the students. The purpose is for when it’s hot or cold outside, the students have a place to exercise.” Khan also described the gym as a “logical amenity.”
A nearby resident of Chamlian School stated that Khan had originally said the school would host sports tournaments in July 2010. The resident was also concerned about “who would enforce special event parking so that cars do not park in front of residents’ houses.”
Robbyn Battles, another resident and a realtor, spoke on her concerns about traffic and safety.
“This is one of the smallest lots of all the elementary schools in the neighborhood. No other elementary school around has a gymnasium and those other schools are all backed by major streets. Chamlian is only backed by one.”
She noted that most of those schools were junior high schools with much larger acreage, such as Rosemont Middle School.
Battles also said that in her experience as a realtor, “People don’t want to live near schools with gymnasiums and auditoriums.”
Khan was provided with a rebuttal toward the end of the hearing in which he acknowledged Rosemont’s “chaotic” traffic problems, but also stated that Rosemont has no program or conditions to regulate traffic. Khan cited Chamlian School’s Traffic and Safety Committee and various other things the school has done to address traffic, such as a PA system which announces the arrival of parents to the students waiting to be picked up.”
“I’ve taken my daughter to Rosemont. There is no Traffic and Safety Committee. There are no loudspeakers. So, credit to the Chamlian School.”
The hearing concluded and notice as to whether the reduced parking permit has been approved or rejected will come in the next few days, continuing the long saga of the Chamlian gym.