Hollywood Park’s city attorney is due to return to City Council in October with a draft lease agreement between the city and two local private organizations for storage space within the Voigt Park complex.
Town leaders have sought to develop a formal pact with the Hollywood Park Community Association and the local Hammerheads youth swim team for storage space at Voigt Center, next to the public swimming pool.
Hollywood Park’s two largest civic groups have been using storage space at the community center for free.
But local officials said they could no longer offer free storage space to private groups at city-owned and -funded facilities, such as Voigt Center and the pool.
When the city issued an eviction notice to the HPCA and Hammerheads, members of both groups and many other residents expressed concern and chided local leaders.
The issue has sparked occasionally tense exchanges during and in between council meetings. Some residents accuse city leaders of alienating HPCA and the Hammerheads and their history of community contributions. Others claim both groups have too much sway on city issues.
But on Sept. 21, council members reached a consensus on crafting a lease term of at least five years with opportunities for both organizations to discuss possible lease changes with the city before that agreement expires.
Council members such as Debbie Trueman argued for a much longer term mainly so that neither group has to return to the negotiating table too soon.
“Five years are fine with me,” HPCA President Holly McBrayer said. “I don’t know where we’ll be in five years. None of us do.”
Council members also asked the HPCA and the Hammerheads to get rental insurance for their respective storage spaces.
Additionally, the city will develop a lease based the fair market value of each organization’s major community events and service in lieu of payment.
McBrayer said the HPCA is heavily involved in the Hollywood Park community, from organizing the town’s official Fourth of July parade and picnic to producing the local Sparks newsletter.
“I feel we do provide a service,” McBrayer said, adding that the youth swim team helps the community in many ways.
“I feel we’re a great group that provides a positive benefit to the community,” she added.
Some local officials and residents said the storage space made available to the HPCA and the Hammerheads could also be used by the public works department, which maintains town venues such as the Voigt Park center and pool.
But Public Works Director Kelly Cowan said his department does not need the Voigt Center space for now.
“I’ve been running for four years the way it is. I can continue to do that. I’m not going to die if I don’t have it,” Cowan said. “Storage is a premium to every department here. Having a storage area down there would make my department way more efficient while taking care of the park and keeping things running down there.”
Council Member Glenna Pearce said she recently talked with several current and former residents and an architect who could recall planning details for the new, bigger Voigt Center that opened in 2017.
According to Pearce, many of the people with whom she spoke about Voigt Center planning said the swim team was meant to have storage space at the community center alongside the HPCA. The $5 million project involved removal of an original storage shed on-site.
“I want to make sure we don’t forget [the swim team],” Pearce added.
Mayor Oscar Villarreal Jr. said he is happy to see the matter resolved.
"I feel it's a win-win. The town is protected from liability, and the community association and the swim team have storage," he added.