JPL to build $18M parking structure
One of the NASA center's current parking lots is set to be turned back into parkland.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory's East Arroyo Parking Lot is set to be turned back into parkland. The agency is planning to build an $18 million structure to replace it. (Cheryl A. Guerrero / Staff Photographer)
With the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's East Arroyo Parking Lot set to be turned back into parkland, a quarter of the parking area used by JPL workers will disappear. As a result, the NASA agency tentatively plans to build an $18 million, 1,200-space parking structure on the other side of the arroyo, closer to JPL buildings.
JPL has leased the land for its current lot, in the northeastern corner of the park, from Pasadena since 1952. But on June 30, 2013, JPL's most recent lease will expire, and Pasadena will not renew it.
Instead, city officials will turn most of the area that now includes a 1,093-space parking lot off Explorer Road into spreading basins, according to a NASA environmental report.
Spreading basins allow recycled water to filter into the groundwater supply.
JPL Facilities Manager Bob Develle said lab officials hope to begin soliciting bid proposals for a new structure by August and expect to complete the garage by next summer.
Loren Pluth, a project manager with Pasadena's Department of Public Works, said the city will keep about 200 parking spaces for public use, as the lot is near several trailheads.
Develle said that building an on-campus parking structure has been part of the JPL facilities plan for “probably 30 years, but we've started in earnest because of Pasadena notifying us that they're not going to renew the lease.”
Develle said JPL has not identified the exact site of the building. A space directly west of the current lot, informally dubbed the “west arroyo lot,” is the leading candidate, said Develle.
Because JPL is located on federal land, the project does not have to undergo review from local cities.
La Cañada City Planner Fred Buss said that the city isn't anticipating any traffic impacts from the new structure.
Develle said JPL has committed to maintaining the current traffic balance in the area, and would guarantee that more traffic wouldn't be slanted toward La Cañada.
“Oak Grove [Drive] is maxed out, we're very conscious of that,” said Develle. “We will have internal controls, as far as what employees enter from the east side … and we'll probably bring in as many — or even more — cars on the east side as we do today.”
Develle said JPL is happy to help accommodate Pasadena's efforts to improve the park.
“As I explained to many, many people [who asked] why we're doing this and having to spend the money … water is more valuable than asphalt,” said Develle. “This is all about increasing the size of the spreading ponds and everything else in Hahamongna Park to enhance the recharge of the aquifer. For our future, that's what we've got to do.”