The Hollywood City Commission gave initial approval Wednesday night to a proposal to put a charter school in Hillcrest — a community where the majority of the residents are 55 years old and older — but said the school would have to address parking and traffic concerns if it hoped to win final approval.
The vote was 6-1, with Commissioner Linda Sherwood, whose district includes Hillcrest, voting in favor. Commissioner Peter Hernandez dissented. Commissioners will revisit the proposal on May 15.
The meeting drew so many people on both sides of the issue that some were asked to wait in the lobby or the library of Hollywood’s City Hall.
Almost 200 speakers cards were turned in, prompting city officials to reduce the standard speaking time to two minutes from three minutes. Commissioners were poised to listen to what could be hours of comments, but many of the would-be speakers left early.
The owners of a now-shuttered recreation building, the Playdium at 1100 Hillcrest Dr., have proposed retrofitting it to make it a K-8 charter school. It would eventually serve 850 students.
Florida Intercultural Academy, which is now in a Hollywood church, has outgrown its space and hopes to move this fall.
But in order to retrofit the building, developers Hardin Tobin LLC and 1100 Hillcrest Drive LLC need the City Commission’s approval.
Last month, the developers got the blessing of the city’s Planning and Development Board, despite the pleas from dozens of Hillcrest residents.
Alainka Brunache, a Florida Intercultural Academy fifth-grader who stayed long enough to read commissioners the speech she wrote, joined several students and parents wearing blue shirts that read “We are Hollywood’s future.”
“What we have is a space problem,” said Alainka. “The new campus will have everything that we need.”
But the residents of the retirement community say the school would create too much traffic and noise.
Several Hillcrest residents begged the commission to turn down the proposal, saying the school is not the proper fit for the area.
“I have nothing against children, but you’re interrupting the style of living for thousands of people,” said Milton Rubin, a Hillcrest resident.