Meals program at Villa-Parke to end after April 10 amid unverified allegations
By André Coleman 04/02/2014
Robin Salzer, owner of Robin's Woodfire Grill & BBQ, said he was told by city officials that he will no longer be able to serve free meals at Villa-Parke Community Center after April 10 due to the "undesirable element" the program attracts and was supposedly responsible for the alleged molestation, as well as an alleged attempted rape.
However, Pasadena police Chief Phillip Sanchez said there are no reports of either alleged incident occurring.
Salzer has been serving free hot meals on Wednesdays at the Jackie Robinson Center since 2010. In 2012, he began serving meals at Villa-Parke on Thursdays.
City officials, Salzer said, told him it attracts "the wrong types of people."
During a meeting in March, Salzer said he met with Director of Parks and Recreation Merci Santoro and Villa-Parke Director Roseanne Adelanto, who claimed a 9-year-old boy was molested in the bathroom during one event, and on another occasion there was an attempted rape. They refused to provide details of those incidents.
Several days later, Salzer spoke with Sanchez, who told him and the Pasadena Weekly that neither incident was reported to police.
Santoro and Adelanto did not return calls for comment. City Manager Michael Beck also did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Pasadena Public Information Officer William Boyer told the Weekly that the city is not shutting down the program, but is looking for a more suitable location.
"The city does have some concerns because of the impact of the program on the park," Boyer said. A park is located next to the community center. "The park is already very busy due to all of the city programs that take place there, so there is an added impact due to the people from the meals program. The city is also concerned because it seems like the program at Villa-Parke is not staffed with the number of volunteers needed to be successful."
(For an expanded version of this story, visit pasdadenaweekly.com.)