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Lundigan Center up in the air

Council OKs redevelopment money, but several potential roadblocks might stop the project.

May 06, 2011|By Gretchen Meier

Despite the city’s move to transfer Redevelopment Agency funds for a new community center, the shovels still may never hit the soil.

The Burbank City Council voted 3 to 1 last week to transfer $5.8 million in Youth Endowment Services Funds for the proposed Lundigan Community Center.

The move was part of a wider effort to protect redevelopment revenues from possible raids from Sacramento as the governor and state Legislature work to shore up a multibillion-dollar deficit.

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The $5.8 million transferred by the city would theoretically be used to pay for the new community center next to the Golden State Focus Neighborhood at Robert E. Lundigan Park, at the intersection of North Naomi Street and Thornton Avenue.

The location would put the center outside a designated redevelopment area, throwing its qualifications as a redevelopment project in doubt.

But in voting for the transfer, Councilman Gary Bric acknowledged that it did not guarantee he would approve spending money on the Lundigan Center project — even though it was cited as the sole reason for moving the money into a city account.

“I think the most important thing we have before us is to protect the funds,” Bric said. “I would support this project knowing that the guarantee would be there, that the money would be safe, and that we couldn’t lose it, but not with the anticipation that we have to move forward with the project.”

Councilman David Gordon, who cast the lone dissenting vote, asked for the center to be put on hold after expressing his distaste for considering a project before the city’s budget was balanced and without concrete plans for its execution.

“And then to be told with $5.7 million that might be an ‘OK’ building,” Gordon said.

Former Mayor Anja Reinke abstained from the vote.

“Now there’s tape for everyone to look at,” Reinke said of the discussion. “It’s a little BS-y to me, and for that reason I’m going to abstain.”

Reinke proposed using the funds for a project with a more immediate need and asked for alternatives to be discussed.

“When we started the ball rolling on this, it was different economic times,” she said. “The economy took a tank since then. I think you have to reprioritize what you can and cannot do in the city.”

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