NEW DELHI: When hundreds of students of the municipal primary school in Shalimar Bagh return to their revamped institution later this year, their huge playground would no longer be there. In what seems a blatant violation of a Delhi high court order, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation has decided to appropriate the field to erect a multi-level parking lot. This is the second such foray of the civic body in recent times. What's more, it is ready to consider more projects of the sort if it finds slots in other schools. In terms of infrastructure, the primary school in Shalimar Bagh’s AC Block did not have much, save for 10 dilapidated rooms. But it had a big asset: a 5,755-square metre playground with swings and slides. “When the rebuilding of the school began three months ago, we were assured that a play area would be earmarked on the plot, but this news of a parking complex is saddening,” a teacher said. On February 28, the standing committee of the corporation passed a proposal that says: “The school will be reconstructed on a portion measuring 2,955sqm, while 2,800sqm will be used to build a multi-level parking lot." The parents of over 370 students, aged 5 to 10 years, are worried about the safety of their children. Would the politicians take over playgrounds if their children were studying in those schools, remonstrated Deepali Singh, one anxious parent. Vikram Sihl, a Class V student, said the playground was their biggest joy in school. “We used it for PT, games and for all activities. Even private schools don’t have such a nice playground,” he said. Fellow student Suraj Kumar agreed. “We did not have to go the playground across the road. Where will our swings and slides go?” he wondered. Unlike the youngsters, the teachers held back their comments for fear of a backlash, though their faces betrayed their dismay. One of them, who asked not to be named, rued, “The parking lot will mean noise, pollution and compromised security and the new building will be cramped. Till now, our school had one of the best gardens and a big field. People called it a mini Santiniketan.” Tilak Raj Kataria, chairman of the standing committee, initially argued that the plot did not belong to the school and was only being used as a playground because it was lying vacant. It was then pointed out that the proposal cleared by his committee admitted that the parking would be built on the school “premises” and also that the Shalimar Bagh layout plan marks the site as “P.S.”, for primary school. Kataria then agreed that land use had been changed. “All necessary clearances have been taken and the safety of school kids will not be compromised because the entrance to the parking will be cordoned off,” he added. The takeover of school land did not receive any opposition in the standing committee meeting, and sources said the corporation is scouting schools with extra land for similar annexations, despite the decision openly flouting the 2004 Delhi high court directive disallowing use of school land for any non-educational purpose. Supreme Court lawyer and education activist Khagesh Jha, however, contended that the project wasn’t legally tenable. “The courts have even shut down dispensaries that were started on school premises,” he said. As for the land being redundant, Jha said indignantly, “Any extra land can be used to build school infrastructure to accommodate the over 20 lakh kids currently outside the school system as well as children from unrecognised schools.”
[Updated Thursday, April 20, 2017 | 8:14 a.m.] That the Vons Store closing on April 15 in the Renaissance Plaza on the southwest corner of North Fair Oaks Avenue at Orange Grove Boulevard is soon to be replaced by a Latin food products-based Vallarta Supermarket does not come as a surprise to many community members who say the changeout expresses the demographic evolution of Northwest Pasadena.
District 3 Councilmember John Kennedy is hosting a community meeting Thursday evening to discuss the Vons to Vallarta transition.
After Vons decided not to renew its lease, a search began by Albertson’s (which had bought Von’s/Safeway) to find a tenant that they could assign their lease to fill the 50,000-square-foot facility.
“Like all retailers, we are constantly evaluating the performance of our stores, a Vons spokesman said, referring to the Renaissance plaza store. “Closing an underperforming store is always a tough decision…”
According to Danny Bakewell, Jr., who spoke this week on behalf of the Plaza’s ownership, Vallarta was carefully selected as a company that met a set of criteria that indicated they could commit to a 10-year long term lease and continue to provide services for the community.
Both Vons’ lease and the city’s agreement with Pasadena Commercial Development allow an assignment of the lease to another retail style supermarket, and Vons has decided to pursue this option for the last two remaining years on the lease by signing an agreement with Vallarta.
“This was to ensure that the community got what was promised to them, which was a first class grocery store operator in place. We have a full service grocery store. We have an excellent operator. We have done all of our due diligence in Vallarta and I think the community will trust us as they have for the past twenty years. They will be very satisfied and very happy with the grocery store that they get,” said Bakewell.
Vallarta is now moving forward with a $5 million renovation to the Fair Oaks Avenue location which will have extensive specialty services and will maintain both the Wells Fargo Bank branch and pharmacy within the store.
Vallarta has hired Pasadena firm DL English to design the interior improvements at the site.
According to Pasadena’s Economic Development Manager Eric Duyshart, the new Vallarta location is expected to employ over 200 people.
“Construction plans have been submitted to the City,” he said. “The renovation will necessitate closing the store for several weeks and there is an expected opening planned for November 2017.”
With the Fair Oaks location transitioning into a Vallarta store, Vons will still maintain three other locations in Pasadena: at 1390 N. Allen Avenue, 155 California Blvd., and 2355 E. Colorado Blvd.
The Vons to Vallarta Transition Community Meeting will take place Thursday from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Plaza Housing and Career Services Department Conference Room located at 649 N. Fair Oaks Ave. Suite 202.
For more information, contact Jana West or Susana Porras at (626) 744-4738.
Read Previous Post
Read Next Post