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Group keeps up fight against Romero Canyon

Residents express concern to Town Council despite board’s commitment to Castaic high site

Posted: January 20, 2011 9:48 p.m.
Updated: January 21, 2011 4:30 a.m.
 

More than 40 Romero Canyon residents opposed to having a high school built on the Castaic site already selected by the local school board want the board members to look at an alternate site that they say is more accessible.

The residents, calling themselves Citizens For Castaic, told members of the newly elected Castaic Town Council on Wednesday that they do not want the school built on Romero Canyon Road property owned by developer Larry Rasmussen.

The group presented council members with a petition they said contained the signatures of at least 200 Castaic residents opposed to the officially adopted school site.

For more than 10 years, Castaic residents and district board members have examined and debated the merits of about a dozen possible school sites in Castaic.

The district selected Rasmussen’s Romero Canyon site last year, and remains committed to its choice.
Some Castaic residents still lobby for other locations, though.

Citizens For Castaic President Richard Landry gave a presentation calling for the William S. Hart Union High School District board to consider property owned by Eugene Lombardi. The property is across the road from the Rasmussen site.

Key points in his argument against Rasmussen’s property focus on its limited access and the need for extensive grading.

“Our students need to be able to walk and bike to school comfortably and safely,” he said. “Not up big, 18-percent grades to the Rasmussen site, not down lengthy desolate roads with nothing alongside them, not up narrow two-lane roads with people going up and down and with pedestrians and cyclists trying to climb the very steep hills,” Landry said.

“We need a location that is central and as flat as possible.”

Council member Robert Kelly reminded the group that the Hart district chooses its own school sites — not the Castaic Town Council.

He also told them that Lombardi never offered his property for consideration.

“This council, or any previous council, does not pick a high school site,” Kelly told the group. “We endorse one of the two sites presented to us. The two sites were either the Hasley-Sloan site or the Rasmussen site.

“Council, at that time, voted to endorse the Rasmussen site,” he said, noting that the council was asked to suggest alternate sites for the district to consider. The Lombardi site was not on the council’s list then.

“Problem is, when it came down to it, Mr. Lombardi did not present his site to the Hart district,” said Kelly.

Kelly asked the group if Lombardi was present at the meeting.

His question was met with silence.

“And because he did not present his site, the Hart district took that into consideration.”

Still, Citizens For Castaic made their pitch, complete with a 25-page handout of colored maps and aerial photographs given to council members.

Newly elected board member Dean Paradise called Landry’s pitch, “a powerful presentation.”

Based on the suggestion by Paradise that the council take up the group’s push to have the Lombardi site considered, the council passed a resolution asking the district to look at the Lombardi site as an alternative site.

Flo Lawrence, chair of the council’s Castaic High School Ad-hoc Committee, warned citizens against derailing the plan already in place.

He said choosing a site other than the one already chosen would only delay construction yet again.

“Parties are currently in negotiation for the purchase/sale agreement. I’m told they’ll have a draft of that agreement within a week or so,” Lawrence said.

“You should be talking to the governing board of the William S. Hart Union High School District, not us,” he said. “The water is under the bridge. We’ve made our recommendation.

“We’re going to see this train either into the station or until it runs out of track.”

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