With the Fontana Days Parade last month, and the festivities this month, Fontana celebrated its 106th year after being founded by A.B. Miller in 1913.
He made a huge impact on our city, and is rightly remembered in the naming of such things as Miller Park, Miller Amphitheater, and A.B. Miller High School. (Unfortunately, the house where he lived was removed decades ago, where the Fontana Walmart now stands.)
Another historical building and property made possible by A.B. Miller is the Fontana Woman's Club, belonging to a nonprofit organization, whose cornerstone was laid by Miller, and to whose mother it was dedicated.
For almost 10 decades, the building has been utilized by the club members for meetings and activities, by the community for wedding receptions, church services, community assemblies, etc. Rightly so, the building and grounds are protected, by law, as historical in significance.
Unfortunately, a legal announcement just appeared in a county newspaper declaring a public forum to discuss and possibly OK the city of Fontana spending $400,000 of taxpayers' money to remodel the Fontana Woman's Club into a fancy restaurant! (The meeting will be on June 11 at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.)
In order to do that, the original integrity of the building and grounds will be severely compromised. One must assume the small kitchen will be made much bigger, and the performing arts stage will be removed? And will the bench made of cement and rocks by A.B. Miller in the area of Fontana's very first park be removed to make room for more parking?
According to the Woman's Club bylaws, if the building is ever no longer to be used for the club, it must be given to another nonprofit. And a restaurant is not a nonprofit!
The general membership of the Woman's Club was not told about this, not allowed to discuss it, and not voted on by them! In fact, there has not been a general club meeting in several months, so most club members had no idea this was a possibility!
If the building is no longer to be used by the Woman's Club, it would make more sense to donate the building to the nonprofit Fontana Historical Society, to use the building as the museum the city has been promising the citizenry, for many years! Then the integrity of the building and grounds would not be compromised. And the thousands of dollars the Historical Society has paid to store the thousands of artifacts, in anticipation of that promised museum, would not have been spent in vain.
But there is currently a problem with the Fontana Historical Society, as well. The last six quarterly meetings have not been held, and no reason has been given to the general membership. When members have volunteered to help out, they have been ignored. People wanting to purchase a plaque in the Rose Garden, or pay their annual dues for one, are being ignored. Instead of having annual elections for officers, they are being appointed, supposedly, by the Board. And the general membership has no idea who those officers or board members are!
Those who continue to ask questions and demand answers about the seeming dysfunction of the organization are being ignored, locked out of board meetings (which legally the members have a right to attend) and had their memberships revoked!
So, is there a conspiracy to steal the Woman's Club building and property? Is there a conspiracy to steal the money in the Historical Society's coffers? Why are seemingly "shady things" being done behind members' backs of both organizations and Fontana citizens!
Please consider attending the June 11 7 p.m. meeting at City Hall and fill out the form to speak and ask questions! We don't want our historical treasures to become history!
(Darlene Willis Scalf is a Fontana resident.)