Hillcrest County Club residents against proposed charter school

Charter school proposed at former Playdium

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – People living near the Hillcrest County Club in Hollywood worry a proposed charter school may disrupt their peace and quiet.

John Lecluse has had a view of the 18th hole for 20 years, but the view from his condominium could soon be of a school playground.

"I have nothing against children," he said. "I have five beautiful grandchildren and children are nice, but not a school. Not here."

Gil George's second-floor balcony would overlook the playground and proposed school.

"It doesn't belong here. It really doesn't belong here," said George. "All the people in this area came here for one reason -- to retire and take life easy."

The playground is one of three planned outside a 40,000-square-foot building that used to be the Recreation Hall Hillcrest. A developer wants to turn the empty building, once known as the Playdium, into a charter school that could hold 850 students.

A majority of those who call Hillcrest home are 55 and older. Signs outside some of the buildings say no children.

"The noise and the traffic are going to be a problem," said Lecluse.

Attorney Alan Koslow, who represents the developer, said the school is what the neighborhood needs.

"Stop being fearful," he said. "'You have nothing to fear, but fear itself' as Roosevelt once said."

Koslow said the school will be open to Hillcrest residents after hours and on weekends.

"It will add to the city's tax base and we will give them a building the can use for adult education," he added.

Koslow said all students wouldn't be coming at once.

"We have three drop off periods in the morning and three in the afternoon to pick up," he said. "Look at what's going on here today. Right now, there is no traffic. You could throw a bowling ball down this road and not hit anyone all day long. It's a myth. There is no traffic problem."

Koslow said the city of Hollywood's zoning board has already approved the project. Demolition has already begun and construction drawings are expected to be finalized this week.

The Hollywood City Commission is expected to vote on the proposal in May.

Commissioner Linda Sherwood, who represents the area, said it's one of the toughest decisions she has had to make.