Some residents angry at Long Beach's attempt to find new vendor to operate city community center
Dozens of people came out Monday evening for a meeting at the Martin Luther King Community Center in response to an effort by the city of Long Beach to find a different vendor to operate the facility.
Government officials have said the programs at the Martin Luther King Community Center have not been meeting the needs of the community and that the center has not been paying rent. They say several important programs have been cut over the years by the nonprofit running the center, including childcare, activities for senior citizens and a health clinic.
"Right now, the center is open, my understanding, less than three hours day," said Acting Long Beach City Manager Ron Walsh. "That's not servicing this community. That is servicing a very small sliver of the community."
Some residents, however, say that the Martin Luther King Community Center is making a big impact and that the vendor hasn't paid rent because the lease expired in 1995.
Deanna Cruise, 85, is a co-founder of the community center. She says the city is wrong for seeking a new operator for the facility.
"It is a shame," Cruise says. "A lot of hard work, long hours were put into getting this center for us so we would have somewhere to go - somewhere for our children to go."
Attorney for the Martin Luther King Community Center Frederick Brewington says that those at City Hall need to understand that the center will "not be pushed back."
"We won't sit by and allow you to do a land grab and turn this into high-priced condominiums so they can look out over the water," Brewington says. "We are not going to allow you to come in here and take the bread out of our children's mouths."
Walsh says the city owns the property so it can't "grab its own land."
The city of Long Beach and the Martin Luther King Community Center are engaged in a legal battle. They have a court date next month.