Built in 2003 on a hillside east of the 110 freeway in Debs Park, the $6.5-million center was supposed to appeal to ethnically diverse neighborhoods across the Eastside and beyond. But critics say the center has fallen short of that goal, saying the problems are partially the result of failing to involve residents in the planning process. In addition, the solar-powered center has been prone to costly breakdowns, and, because of budget cuts, all the programs and trails are now managed by only three staff members.
“Audubon felt that if it plopped this thing down, people would come and donations would pour in. That didn’t happen and it went to pot because it failed to involve communities in the planning process.” — Adan Ortega, chair of Mujeres de La Tierra and a former member of the National Audubon Society’s board of directors
While acknowledging problems with the neighbors, Audubon officials said they are considering ideas on how to connect better with the community, including plans to share the facility with other organizations and open the place for public gatherings as well as wedding ceremonies.
“We’re doing everything we can,” new director Marcos Trinidad told the Times.
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