Council plans to lease Maple Neighborhood Center

Fullerton City Council will consider a proposal at its May 17 meeting to lease the Maple Neighborhood Center to an Orange-based nonprofit called The Friendly Center.

The Maple Neighborhood Center, adjacent to Lemon Park, could be leased to a non-profit organization. Photo by Jesse La Tour

The proposed lease is $1 per year. The city is expected to save $67,000 in general fund savings, as the user-friendly center will provide a variety of neighborhood services previously offered by the city.

The Maple Center has remained closed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. If the city reopens the center as a city-run rental facility, it would need about $135,000 in staff and construction costs, less any rental income, according to a staff report.

Earlier this year, a majority of city council voted to cut the budget by 2.5%.

During public comments at the May 3 city council meeting, resident Kitty Jaramillo said, “The neighborhood was taken by surprise when we heard the community center was no longer going to be available for Fullerton residents. [for rental]…Whether it’s Lemon Park or the Maple Community Center, local residents love it… Please save our community center. It is probably the most used of all our community centers.

The Parks and Recreation Department has operated the Maple Center since 1945. Over the years, the center has offered programs for seniors, after-school and summer programs for youth, gang prevention programs , social services, help with documentation and leisure courses. (Some of these services have since moved to the Fullerton Community Center.)

Improvements were made to the Maple Center in 2011 using City redevelopment funds. Prior to the pandemic, the Center was a popular venue that residents rented out for weddings, quinceras and other community events. Thanks to these rentals, the gross income was $68,000 in 2019.

The Friendly Center said it can offer private rentals in part of the Maple Center during its hours of operation, but not after hours.

The Center offered to offer free programs and services to the public, focusing on residents of Fullerton and the community surrounding Lemon Park.

They estimate to serve 1,000 people at the Maple Center, worth $350,000 in their first year of operation.

The proposed lease is for five years.

The City Council meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 303 W. Commonwealth Ave. Residents can attend and provide feedback in person or via Zoom.

The Maple Neighborhood Center was renovated with city redevelopment funds in 2011. Photo by Jesse La Tour

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