Claremont Museum of Art has new home at the Depot

The Claremont Museum of Art is about to receive a new set of walls. The city council approved renting out the Claremont Depot to the museum at a reduced price at Tuesday’s meeting.

The CMA will set up shop at the historic Depot, currently occupied by Foothill Transit, at a rate of one dollar a year, according to city documents. The decision is the latest chapter in the museum’s up-and-down history in Claremont, and is contingent on the procurement of more than $1 million in grants.

Human Services Director Anne Turner, who presented the proposal to council, claimed that establishing the museum at the location would, “preserve the Claremont Depot and reframe it not only as a visual icon for the community, but as a hub for Claremont’s growing arts scene and a centerpiece to the Village area.”

The CMA, first established in 2004, was originally located in the Packing House, but closed its doors at the end of 2009 due to financial woes. Since then, CMA has billed itself as a “museum without walls,” with much of the artwork owned by the group housed in a climate-controlled storage space in Pomona.

The 10-year lease hinges on the museum’s pledge to secure over $1.8 million in grants to keep the museum open, according to Ms. Turner. The CMA will take over the Depot “as is,” save for $350,000 in ADA and seismic retrofitting the city will undertake.

Funds for ADA and seismic retrofitting will come from Proposition C, which allocates money for transportation-related endeavors. Ms. Turner confirmed the funds have been approved for use on the museum project.

In her presentation, Ms. Turner also said the Depot’s location along the railroad tracks, coupled with the upcoming Gold Line extension, will frame the museum as a regional destination.

Once the museum is open, the public restrooms at the Depot will no longer remain available to the public. Metrolink, bus riders and pedestrians looking to use restrooms must instead seek other public restrooms in the Village, the nearest being city hall.

With an annual operating budget of close to $900,000, the CMA opened its inaugural location at the Packing House in 2006 after years of planning spearheaded by Claremont resident and artist Marguerite McIntosh. The museum struggled at the Packing House, which board members attributed to the nationwide economic recession.

After borrowing more than $37,450 from the city to stay afloat, the museum closed its doors two days after Christmas in 2009.

Ms. Turner explained to the council that the $1 per year rent is vital for the survival of the museum, which will hit the ground running to secure grants and other funds.

One such grant is the California Cultural and Historical Endowment Grant, which awards from $250,000 to $500,000. One requirement for applying for the grant is that a facility must be open to the public for at least 120 days.

During discussion, the council praised the idea wholeheartedly, hailing it as an excellent idea for the community.

“[The Depot] has been sitting there, as beautiful as it is, but without a soul,” Mayor Pro Tem Sam Pedroza said. “I can’t think of a better idea than this project. It would really give it the life it needs and fulfill the vision the community had when it restored this building.”

Councilmember Larry Schroeder agreed, calling the project a “win-win,” and “a great opportunity for the station.”

The motion passed unanimously, 5-0.

According to the deal, the CMA must meet with city staff annually for updates, and the city reserves the right to terminate the contract at any time.


Focus on speed limits

Also on the agenda for the city council was a proposal to change the speed limits of a number of roadways within the city. The changes were the result of the 2015 Speed Survey, which catalogued average speeds of drivers going through selected stretches of road.

City Engineer Loretta Mustafa presented the findings to council, and recommended changing the speed limits to the following roads: Claremont Boulevard from Sixth to Foothill would change from 45 mph to 40 mph; Sixth Street from Mills to Claremont would decrease from 35 mph to 30; Indian Hill Boulevard from American to San Jose would fall to 30 mph from 35 mph, and Indian Hill from First to Bonita would downgrade from 30 mph to 25 mph.

The only speed limit increase would affect a stretch of Oxford Avenue from Colby Circle to Scripps Drive. According to the results of the survey, the average speed along the stretch of road is 33 mph. Based on the data, Ms. Mustafa presented a recommendation to increase the speed limit from 25 mph to 30 mph.

Almost all of the public commenters were residents of the adjacent neighborhood, who claimed the speed limit increase would be a danger to the community.

Resident Cheryl Boardman described a certain crosswalk within the stretch of road as a “death walk,” because it is within a blind spot.

Judy Marchant was more forceful in her stance against the proposed speed limit hike, calling out the police department for not enforcing speeders on the street and calling on them to “enforce the hell out of [the speed limit].”

During discussion, the councilmembers expressed reservations with approving the speed limit increase on Oxford, moving toward Alternative B. The alternative would approve all the speed limits with an exception of Oxford, and would evaluate possible traffic calming procedures to alleviate speeding, including crosswalks.

“It’s a very frustrating experience for every street that comes before us,” Mr. Schroeder said. “And I just have to remind the public that it’s state laws that are binding us here.”

Mr. Schroeder encouraged the public to contact their state representative if they feel like the current rules regarding speed limit classifications need to be changed.

Councilmember Opanyi Nasiali called out many residents in the affected area for speeding themselves and sending the average speed upward.

“We have had so many people coming in tonight, complaining about increasing speed limits on Scripps,” Mr. Nasiali said. “So, it’s not the person from the other city or the other neighborhood who is speeding on your street. It’s you, your neighbor, or the person nearby. And I challenge those of you who are here, saying ‘they’re going to kill us with speed,’ that you actually do drive 25 miles an hour in a residential district. I bet that you don’t.”

The council moved forward with Alternative B with a unanimous 5-0 vote. The Traffic and Transportation Commission will look over ways to alleviate speeds at its meeting in January 2016.


Committee to review ideas

for police station

At the end of the meeting, Mayor Corey Calaycay formally announced the creation of a new ad hoc committee that would oversee plans for a new police station. The committee, created after the failure of Measure PS at the polls last month, will contain both supporters and detractors of the measure.

The committee members are Frank Bedoya, Jack Blair, Gar Byrum, Betty Crocker, Helaine Goldwater, Carolyn Gonzales, Hal Hargrave, Marcia Horowitz, Jim Keith, Stig Lanneskog, Sally Seven, Michael Shea, Mark Sterba, Jess Swick and Paul Wheeler, with Mr. Calaycay and Police Commission Chair Ed Reece serving as ex-officio members.

Mr. Bedoya and Ms. Crocker were prominent members of the Yes on PS campaign, while Mr. Shea was the chief architect of the proposed police station. Mr. Sterba and Ms. Seven were vocal opponents of the measure, and Mr. Lanneskog is the CEO of the Claremont University Consortium.

The council will not meet for the rest of the year. The December 22 meeting was ceremoniously canceled for the Christmas holiday.

—Matthew Bramlett


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