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Hart district stays committed to the canyon for Castaic

Hasley-Sloan remains a backup for Castaic high school site, but the district says it’ll stick with R

Posted: January 6, 2011 8:40 p.m.
Updated: January 7, 2011 4:30 a.m.

Construction of a Castaic high school on developer Larry Rasmussen’s Romero Canyon property will directly affect properties around the location, providing infrastructure to the area currently remote from public services. The Ion Communities location just north of Rasmussen’s was also considered for a school location, while some residents are lob...

 

Editor’s note: Last in a series on properties near the proposed Castaic high school site.

Rick Patterson is president of the Santa Clarita Valley Facilities Foundation, a nonprofit public benefit corporation that buys land for the William S. Hart Union High School District.

He has been at the heart of the Castaic high school-site search from the beginning.

Ten years ago, he lobbied for the foundation’s site on Hasley Canyon Road at Sloan Canyon Road to be selected as the best possible location for the school.

He made a second run at the effort just last year.

The Hasley-Sloan site is due south of the Romero Canyon property, which was selected by the school board last summer to be the new school’s location.

The search for a school site has gone on for more than a decade.

During both attempts to build Castaic’s high school on the Facilities Foundation land at Hasley-Sloan, local residents banded together to effectively force the district to look elsewhere.

The Facilities Foundation is a nonprofit charitable organization aimed at finding, buying and developing sites for new schools in the William S. Hart Union High School District. The foundation’s assets total $23,828,976, according to its 11-year summary report prepared in June 2009.

So despite the fact that the property belongs to a foundation whose job is finding new campuses for the school district, a plan filed with the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning in November 2007 calls for 58 single-family homes to be built on the site’s 70 acres.

Patterson says it’s the perfect location for a school.

And it remains the district’s default location if the Romero Canyon land is deemed unsuitable.

“The school district has asked that the Hasley-Sloan site be maintained as a second (alternate) site in the event they run into soil issues,” Patterson told The Signal.

Patterson agrees with some critics of the selected Romero Canyon location, saying grading of the hilly area is a major obstacle.

He likened the job to “carving out the side of a mountain” — and pointed out that the Hasley-Sloan site would require a minimal amount of grading.

But a Castaic campus wouldn’t be the first Hart district high school to require lots of grading.

The Facilities Foundation successfully helped build Golden Valley High School on a hilly slope west of Sierra Highway.

Sticking by its selection
Two environmental reviews are under way at the Romero Canyon site, currently owned by developer Larry Rasmussen.

A geo-technical study is under review at the state level, and a detailed environmental impact review should be finished by September, Hart district spokeswoman Gail Pinsker said.

And the Hart district stands firmly behind the selected site, Pinsker said, offering a cautionary word to those lobbying for other locations.

“There’s quite a bit of misinformation out there, and we’re working hard to educate the public,” she said.

“One of the things we’re hearing is the need for an oil-well study of the property,” Pinsker said. “The district is not paying for any oil-well mitigation.”

Public meetings are now planned for early February, she said.

Castaic citizens eager to get a high school should be reminded, she said, that grading of the Romero Canyon site is not extraordinary, access in and out is being hammered out at the county level and, last but not least, “Castaic High School” is not the official name of the school.

The difficult job of settling on a school site is over, Pinsker said.

“The fun part happens,” she said, “when we have to choose a mascot and school colors.”

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