Maria de Los Angeles visits Community Partnership for Families' Lodi office for help filling out school registration forms for her two children and MediCal paperwork so her husband can receive diabetes treatment.
She's not alone.
The three small rooms the social service agency rents in the Boys and Girl's Club building at Blakely Park often crowd with other people seeking assistance.
"It's very small for all the people who are going there," the 28-year-old de Los Angeles said.
But a new, larger site is now on the horizon, after the Lodi City Council voted 3-2 Wednesday night to allow the partnership to lease a plot of land adjacent to the Boys and Girl's Club in the busy park. Additionally, the city will provide 40 hours of free management services to guide the project along.
"Neighborhood parks are meant to improve the neighborhood," Mayor Susan Hitchcock said. "I think we need to meet their needs."
Though they said they supported the partnership's work in connecting disadvantaged residents with necessary services, Vice Mayor Bob Johnson and Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce voted against the lease, citing reservations over reducing available land in a park that teems with basketball, cricket, baseball and soccer players.
"We are short of above-ground fields and facilities for our people," said Johnson, citing other lots the agency could use. "I don't think there is a perfect place, but there is a lot more perfect place than Blakely Park."
The new building will be 5,140 square feet and will be built on land that currently houses a troublesome public restroom, which Hitchcock called a hangout for "perverts."
In May, the council split on whether to allow the partnership to take up residence in a new building. Johnson and Mounce voted against the proposal, and Councilman John Beckman requested more information about the plan at that time.
Resident Maria Ochoa told the council a larger center would keep families from having to travel to other sites for services. Most families who rely on the partnership for assistance walk to its offices, she said.
In other action• The council decided to proceed with its Tuesday morning shirtsleeve sessions, but directed staff to indicate on agendas when the council is being asked to give direction to city staff.
• The council authorized the city manager to enter into an agreement with the World of Wonder Science Museum that could lead to the first tenant in the 13,000 square feet of storefronts in the city's parking structure on Sacramento Street in downtown Lodi.
But first the museum must raise at least $165,000 in less than 180 days for improvements on 12,000 square feet of retail space. Then the science museum can enter into a six-year, $1,000-a-month lease on the space.
Sally Snyde, the museum board's president, said the museum has held one fund-raiser and is gearing up for another Sept. 2 at Lodi Lake. Four others fund-raising events are planned in the next six months, she said. The museum is aiming to open in 2008.
• The council appointed students Jordan McCroskey and Jonathan Newman to the Greater Lodi Area Youth Commission. Their terms expire May 31, 2007.
• Mayor Susan Hitchcock presented Hayden Goni Johnson with a resolution of appreciation for donating a picture of Lodi Lake to the city. Hitchcock said she bought $50 worth of tickets at a recent raffle in an unsuccessful attempt to win the picture. "I wanted to give this to the city because Mayor Hitchcock wanted it so bad," Goni Johnson said of his reason for donating his artwork.
- News-Sentinel staff.
Construction and opening dates have not yet been set, said Francisco Trujillo, coordinator of the partnership's Lodi site.
Since 2002, the partnership has rented two offices and another room totaling 400 square feet from the Lodi Boys and Girl's Club, Trujillo said. That limits the space available for the site's staff to serve the 700 to 800 families a year.
The staff of the social service agency is working to match the needs of the community with the services the new center will offer, he said
"Every community is very different and unique, so it is based on the community's needs," Trujillo said.
Some services, such as employment assistance, aren't available in Lodi due to the center's size, meaning families without cars must find a way to the partnership's four offices in Stockton or one in Tracy to receive the help they need, Trujillo said.
Families come to the site to seek the help with employment, educational, gang intervention, health care and tax advice through the partnership's collaborations with a number of organizations, which include CalWorks, the probation department and Sutter Health, Trujillo said.
First published: Thursday, August 3, 2006