Unlucky strike for bowling alley

Glen Vilio said he'd been assured by Langley Township that rec centre plans would not deprive his customers of parking spots.

The owner of the Aldergrove bowling alley feels that his business has been rolled a “gutter ball”.

Glen Vilio said he’d been assured by Langley Township that the development of the Aldergrove Credit Union Recreation Centre next to his Alder Alley business would not deprive his customers of parking spots.

“For over 50 years we had access to over 40 parking stalls and were assured by Township management that we would have adequate parking when the new recreation centre was built,” Vilio told The Star.

“Township changed their plans after our last consultation. We are now left with 10 parking stalls — all on our existing property — and zero shared parking stalls.”

Alder Alley is a 10-lane, 5-pin bowling alley located at 27070 Fraser Hwy., Aldergrove.

Vilio said he had been speaking with James Marvel, Township manager of recreational facilities and services, about parking issues with the site for the past couple of years.

“The last thing (Marvel) wanted was for us to be negatively impacted due to the parking issues and he repeatedly assured me that he was working with us on this project. On March 25 of this year, I received a phone call from the Township of Langley requesting a meeting. Then on March 27, I met with a property negotiator and the project supervisor (transportation and engineering division). It was at this meeting that I discovered that there were now only going to be six parking stalls on the east side of the property. I was informed that these were “service stalls” for the recreation centre. We were getting zero parking stalls from the Township.

“I had not been consulted once about this change of plans and I didn’t think it could get any worse, until I noticed on the drawings that there was a new median to be constructed on Fraser Hwy. which would eliminate any access to our facility from the east. I asked them how would anyone get into our facility from east Aldergrove and Abbotsford (where the population growth has increased dramatically). They had no answer.

“By now I was already fuming, then they added a couple more bombshells. The main reason for their meeting wasn’t to even talk about the parking or lane way access. Instead it was to obtain a statutory right of way on a corner of our property. At this point I could only laugh when they suggested that ‘…it will only take up one of (my) parking stalls.’

“These Township employees seemed pretty nice and didn’t know about my previous consultations with James Marvel. This led to my final surprise of the day when I found out that James, whom I had been dealing with since the beginning, was ‘no longer’ with the Township,” said Vilio.

“I was also given some information in regards to redeveloping our property. Although redevelopment is an option, we really want to save our bowling alley. In fact, we were planning on a new facelift and liquor license application — both are temporarily on hold — for the bowling alley this spring.”

“We can not operate a bowling alley with 9-10 parking stalls. We have given Township staff some suggestions, such as angled parking, one-way lane access, etc., and are looking for support in making sure Langley’s only remaining bowling alley (Willowbrook will be closing down this spring) remains viable.”

Vilio said, “We love our bowling alley, our customers and staff. However, if something is not done to fix the parking situation and lane way access we will be forced to close a bowling alley that has been around since the 1960s and consider our redevelopment alternatives, including a pay parking lot.”

Vilio also complains that the new recreation centre will only provide approximately 105 on-site parking stalls for the ice arena and swimming pool facilities, and he expects their customer parking will also spill over onto Fraser Hwy. and other local streets during peak operating hours.

Vilio has started an on-line petition asking that the Township reconsider the parking plans at http://alderalley.com/ and is also planning a “Save Alder Alley Day” in which all bowling revenues will be put towards “fighting for the survival of the bowling alley.”