Amid harsh criticism from surrounding neighbors, Caltech officials on Tuesday said they would postpone plans to build a bigger childcare facility.
The $5-million center would accommodate 128 children in three buildings. The current structure, on Chester Avenue and Del Mar Boulevard, handles about 99 children and serves mainly employees of Caltech and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The proposed site for the larger childcare facility is a storage yard near the tennis courts on California Boulevard and Arden Road.
But the project has attracted the ire of residents, with signs that read “Save Our Neighborhood From Caltech” popping up on lawns on Arden Road.
Several of the approximately 50 residents who attended a two-hour meeting at Caltech said the design of the larger facility looked cheap and the center would lead to increased traffic on California Boulevard. Many also said they didn’t receive advanced notice of the plan.
Jessie Milano, who lives on Arden Road, said the modern design of the proposed center is “just awful.”
“What you’ve shown us isn’t something to be proud of,” she told Caltech officials at a community meeting on the campus Tuesday night.
Ken Hargreaves, senior director of design and construction at Caltech, said the structure would be “hardly viewable” from Arden.
“These buildings are so short that they’re basically the same height of the existing tennis court fence,” he said.
A traffic study that was completed with the city of Pasadena last fall found no significant impacts to California Boulevard, he added. The proposed site is adjacent to an existing underground parking garage.
The center will be closest to a set of houses owned by Caltech and used by faculty and staff.
University officials agreed to set up a meeting between Caltech President Jean-Lou Chameau and a small group of neighbors in the next couple of weeks to discuss the future of the project. Chameau was unable to attend the meeting on Tuesday, officials said.
Meanwhile, another Arden Road resident, former Pasadena Mayor Bill Thomson, said neighbors have retained a lawyer.
Caltech has said that the only access point for the center would be on California. But Thomson said residents are worried that that an exit would be created on Arden or that traffic would spillover onto the street.
“Caltech is a great university,” he said. “We just don’t want [the center] to be on Arden Road."
-- Tiffany Kelly, Times Community News