$125,000 to study bathhouse transformation

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It’s either Manhattan Beach becoming the city’s first green community, or a pie in the sky idea.

Either way, Manhattan Beach Community Group President Ira Zalcman wants to put some 900 solar panels on the old bathhouse building that he says will meet the energy needs of about 10 percent of the Manhattan Beach community.

The old dilapidated bath house building is just off the Manhattan Beach boardwalk, closest to Oriental Boulevard and Falmouth Street. It has been abandoned since the 1970s and is currently under the city’s Parks Department jurisdiction.

The police department also uses one of the rooms on a part-time basis, according to Zalcman.

“Our goal is to hopefully make Manhattan Beach a green community, and this will be the first step,” said Zalcman. “Hopefully, we can take a vacant building and find a way financially to make solar energy, and the plan can be replicated throughout New York City.”

Zalcman said he’s spoken to a number of companies on how to install and utilize solar panels for power, but hasn’t come up with a master plan on how to pay for the work, or which company to use.

In the meantime, Assembly member Steve Cymbrowitz has agreed to pay for a feasibility study on the building, using $125,000 out of his state capital discretionary funds.

The Parks Department will be the lead agency for the study, which is expected to start in the next 3-6 months.

Cymbrowitz, however, stopped short of endorsing that the building become a site to store and recycle solar energy.

“I am funding a feasibility study to determine whether this building could be transformed into a useful structure and what the cost would be,” said Cymbrowitz.

Parks Department spokesperson Phil Abramson said the agency is open to reviewing any proposals for the building’s improvement or restoration, including the installation of solar panels.

“At this time funds are not in our budget for this purpose,” he added.

Local Manhattan Beach gadfly and resident Ed Eisenberg called the idea to turn the site into a solar energy building “pie in the sky.”

“That whole place is falling apart and if you put enough (solar) tiles on the roof of the building it would generate only enough power for one or two blocks,” said Eisenberg.

“It’s an expensive and wasteful proposition. There’s so many other things that have to be done in the park and on the beach,” he added.

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