Yoga classes lose center


As burgeoning enrollment at Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School requires more space, the Malibu Community Center is relinquishing most of its remaining rooms.

“Our lease agreement is over. The Community Center will still have an office on site near the school office and will continue to produce community events such as the Halloween Haunt, the Easter Hoppening and the annual Day in the Park,” said Beverly Hammond, president of the Point Dume Community Services District Board of Directors, which has operated the site for the past 16 years.

“As the result of the loss of space, most of the groups that formerly used the center for meetings have been forced to find other locations,” Hammond said.

“I understand one of the groups went to the city and asked to use its conference room for a board of directors meeting but were told no,” said Nidra Winger, executive director of the Community Center. “For years, all the study groups met here. Even the city has used this site in the past.

“Our next step is to propose a joint powers agreement with the city to operate a community center on Point Dume, assuming that land can become available. The Malibu Bay Co. has proposed donating six flat acres for baseball and soccer fields and room for a 12,000-square-foot building.”

The city has been in negotiations with the Malibu Bay Co. about the offer. “We want to work cooperatively on something that will benefit the city, as well as our district,” Winger said. “We have the experience in successfully running a community center and would like to work with the city in furthering the goal of expanding community services for Malibu.”

Children’s Creative Workshop, originally a subtenant of the Community Center, has operated for the past three years as a tenant of the Santa Monica-Malibu School District. The preschool workshop operated by Shari Latta will continue at the site but will use only two rooms.

The Seniors Club, whose 200 members for many years used the facility’s auditorium for its monthly luncheons, has been meeting at the Point Dume Club for almost a year, Hammond said. “We no longer had space for them.”

The Community Center lost the use of the majority of the rooms three years ago when the school district opened the Cabrillo Marine Science Satellite to alleviate crowding at Malibu elementary schools and to accommodate state-mandated class-size reductions. The large exercise room, with its hardwood floor and mirrors used for yoga, aerobics and dance classes, is now the school library. “It was one of the most heavily used rooms,” Hammond said. “We were still able to accommodate the book discussion group and some of the smaller groups until the beginning of this summer.”

Three separate programs offered through the Community Center this summer — Kelly Matthews’ summer reading program, a workshop for children and Kurt Lampson’s children’s karate program — will continue through August.

The Point Dume Community Services District, a special services district established originally by LAFCO to operate a community center in Malibu, has offered educational and recreational activities and programs at the site for the past 16 years.

“The things we’ve found that people enjoy most are classroom spaces for meetings, an exercise room for yoga and a large auditorium space for art exhibits and the seniors club,” Hammond said.

“We’ve had a good relationship with the school district since 1982,” Winger said. “At first you want to ask people to save the Community Center, but it’s not like it’s going to be torn down. It’s a school, and it’s an enrichment to our community.

“We’ve had this site for 16 years, but it never was ours,” Winger said. “They’ve let us be here. It’s just that they’re exploding at the seams. The demographics have changed, and they need their building back.”

Winger said she has been telling the center’s nonprofit user groups that meet in the evenings they’re welcome to go the school district and ask for meeting space. “After August, I can no longer facilitate them,” she said. “There is a big need for meeting rooms, and our seniors really need someplace to go. At Point Dume Club, it’s not for their exclusive use, it’s the rec room for the whole park.”