Locals oppose school plans in Castaic
Residents who live near the proposed high school site say several hazards make choice ‘ridiculous’
Posted: August 18, 2010 8:56 p.m.
Updated: August 19, 2010 4:30 a.m.
Citing concerns with landslides and student safety, a group of 50 Romero Canyon residents said Wednesday they strongly oppose the Hart district’s plan to build a high school in their neighborhood.
“We live here, and we know what this property is like,” said Dean Paradise, a 20-year resident of Romero Canyon. “We know it would be ridiculous to put a high school site there.”
The residents have brought up concerns including the potential for severe landslides and the environmental impacts of building a school in an equestrian and rural community, Romero Canyon resident Kimberly Prezioso said in an e-mail sent to the Hart district and leaders of the Castaic community.
Another issue involves the fire hazard, as residents object to a school in Romero Canyon when the community dealt with brush fires in August 2001, October 2003 and October 2007, Prezioso said.
The Romero Canyon property owners are in the process of hiring a lawyer to protect their rights, Prezioso said.
The William S. Hart Union High School District responded with a statement saying much about the high school’s construction is still up in the air.
The district is still negotiating with property owner Larry Rasmussen over a purchase price and timeline, and consultants are looking into environmental impacts, the statement said, calling any speculation before the plans are finished “premature.”
Initial studies on the Romero Canyon site have not found any “fatal flaws,” or issues that would greatly delay the school’s projected opening of 2013 or create a financial burden. The district is in the process of completing an environmental impact report.
“The district is now doing its due diligence to determine the feasibility of building a high school on the chosen Romero Canyon site,” the Hart district statement read.
Soil and geological studies on the Romero Canyon property were shut down last week because Rasmussen didn’t have the proper permits to work on the site, said Dennis Hunter, assistant deputy director at Los Angeles County’s Land Development division.
“I think they jumped the gun and didn’t get the grading permits,” he said.
While Hunter called the work “minor,” he said the property owner will have a permit to proceed in the next couple of days.
The Hart district in July selected the Romero Canyon property as the preferred site for a high school in Castaic following months of studies from consultants.
The Castaic community has spent the last decade waiting on the Hart district to build a high school to serve its students.
In 2008, the local community passed Measure SA, the Hart district’s $300 million construction bond, which would pay to build Castaic high school.
High school students living in Castaic now attend Valencia and West Ranch high schools, which have dealt with issues of student overcrowding.
Romero Canyon residents like Prezioso and Paradise would rather have the high school be built at the Hasley/Sloan site, the other property the Hart district was considering for a high school.
That site would be an advantage because the SCV Facilities Foundation owns it, and it would cost $20 million less to build a high school at Hasley/Sloan, Paradise said.
In addition, opponents say the Romero Canyon property will not be ready by 2013 because of its significant grading and geotechnical issues.
“This is literally a money pit,” Prezioso’s e-mail said.
To view The-Signal article click here.