A meeting of the First Community Development Council at First Church of God . . . Center of Hope in Inglewood with representatives from the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) illustrated just how wide the gulf is between the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Line the MTA wants to build and the line the community wants.

That gulf seemed almost as wide as the distance from where the train starts to where it ends–a distance of about 8.5 miles.

Rob Ball, project director for MTA, met with about 100 concerned citizens last week at the church at 9550 Crenshaw Blvd. in Inglewood.

Ball, whose talk was often difficult to follow, outlined the way the proposed Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor train would travel south from the Expo Line along Crenshaw Boulevard and connect with the Green Line train near the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Utility work, he said, was being done along Crenshaw and some ground had been broken around LAX.

He spoke of contracts being sought. He mentioned the Leimert Park Station–“We’re really trying to build that station”; a substation at 59th Street that “has had some controversy” and a crossover at Slauson Avenue. He also spoke of acquiring property for stations.

The MTA is proposing six new stations for the Crenshaw/LAX Line–Crenshaw/Exposition, Crenshaw/Martin Luther King Blvd./Crenshaw/Slauson, Florence/West, Florence/LaBrea and Aviation/Century. Stations at Crenshaw/Vernon (Leimert Park) and Florence/Hindry (Inglewood) are designated as optional.

One man, voicing the position of many others, commented that the train should be underground. Other people mentioned the safety of schoolchildren and pedestrians, and how the present design will disrupt services or kill business in the Inglewood area.

“We sympathize with what you you’re saying about businesses, said Ball, “but MTA will not clear any portion of the project that there is no funding for.” He said the board has been trying to find additional funding for several years.

The Crenshaw/Expo station would be underground with surface parking, tunneling “just past” Martin Luther King Blvd. and surfacing there, with a station at the Crenshaw Baldwin Hills Mall. There are other below-grade sections, but most of the line is above ground.

“This train literally left the station before I became mayor,” Inglewood Mayor James Butts told the group, but he said the line should have a “trenched crossing” at Florence Avenue and Century Boulevard.

“I would like to see the station at Market and Florence,” he said, mentioning that there should be an overpass there so that pedestrians don’t have to cross a five-lane street.

Butts also said he wanted to see the Hindry Station become a necessity rather than an option, because of the business district.

“We want the project to work for us,” said Butts, who asked those there to support it. “This is something that we’ll have for decades, and it needs to be done right the first time.”