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Boys and Girls Club Envisions Expanding to Lang Park

Kids at the Boys and Girls Club's TLC program in Bluebird Park. The club hopes to expand to another city park.

Kids at the Boys and Girls Club’s TLC program in Bluebird Park. The club hopes to expand to another city park.

More children may have access to after-school programs through Laguna Beach’s Boys and Girls Club if the City Council approves a proposal to lease the Lang Park Community Center for an expansion of The Laguna Club for Kids, known as TLC.

If approved at the meeting tonight, Nov. 5, city staff will begin public outreach about the proposal to nearby residents.

At the earliest, managers of the Boys and Girls Club project a TLC program at Lang Park could be ready by next fall.

City staff has already analyzed the proposal’s possible impact on existing recreation programs held at the center, as well as on Anneliese Preschool, which occupies an adjacent city-owned building for its preschool and kindergarten programs.

“We want this to be a win-win for everyone,” said the city’s Community Services Director, Ben Siegel, who added that the community center is lightly used, with city programs taking up only a few hours a day.

Pam Estes, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club, also highlighted the need to reach out to local residents before solidifying any plans.

The Boys and Girls Club currently operates its hugely popular TLC program in a city-leased facility at 1479 Temple Terrace, which overlooks Bluebird Park. There, the club offers local kids aged 5 to 12 year-round, after school and summer activities, and has a 25-child waiting list.

“We want to make sure that every kid in Laguna Beach, if they want to be there, can be there,” she said. “And right now we are turning kids away.”

Estes said TLC provides an enriching after school environment that includes education, arts, physical activities and technology.

During lease renewal talks over the Bluebird facility in April, club managers inquired about using Lang to expand.

The Lang Park Community Center on Wesley Drive consists of a small gymnasium, multipurpose room,  conference room, restrooms and storage area. The preschool currently leases the conference room and another building for its classrooms. The center also accommodates a few city recreation programs and infrequently local community groups.

The Boys and Girls Club would like exclusive use of the multipurpose room, kitchen and storage room, which could be converted into an office for staff. They envision a program for 40 to 50 children from ages 6 to 10, open weekdays from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. during the school year and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer. It would be staffed fulltime from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Improvements, at the tenant’s expense, would include a private restroom for the children, renovating the kitchen and adding storage space.

City staff recommends a $1 a year lease with the club responsible for all maintenance and utility costs.

The report notes that the daily presence of TLC staff would improve oversight of the facility, reduce the likelihood of vandalism and theft and allow the city to increase contract recreation classes there.

The project would also foster a reciprocal relationship, allowing the city to use of the club’s main facility on Laguna Canyon Road for contract classes and programs, the report says.

Any current city programs scheduled in the Lank Park multipurpose room would be relocated to the gymnasium or to the club’s Laguna Canyon Road location so that no existing uses would be cancelled, the report says.

To avoid competition with Anneliese Preschool, the club has agreed to age restrictions that avoid overlap with the preschool, the report says.

To address concerns about overtaxing the park’s tiny lot, city staff proposes that the club lease spaces from the nearby United Methodist Church for use by their staff and parents.

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