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Castaic High site picked

Posted: October 15, 2008 9:32 p.m.
Updated: December 17, 2008 5:00 a.m.

This map shows the site chosen for the high school to be built in Castaic.

 
The long-awaited Castaic high school will be built near the Sterling Gateway industrial complex, Castaic Area Town Council members heard Wednesday night.

The move to develop the school at the Sterling Gateway residential site was met by applause from an audience of about 50 people.

"We are going to reccomend to our governing board (Thursday) night that we endorse the Sterling Gateway residential site," said Rob Gapper, chief operations officer for the Hart distrct.

After years of deliberation, wrangling and court battles, the elusive high school is slated to be built at the end of Witherspoon Parkway off Commerce Court.

The site was selected from a short list of six sites - all of which were explained to the council by members of the William S. Hart Union High School District, and none of which included the long-coveted NorthLake site overlooking Castaic Lake.

The actual school won't be finished for another four or five years, board member Gloria Mercado-Fortine said.

"This is the one we're recommending, Sterling Gateway," she told The Signal before addressing members of the Castaic Area Town Council. "At least we have a starting point."

Many Castaic residents, however, have been hoping for more than five years that 2008 would be a finish line rather than a starting point for the much-needed high school.

Right now, Castaic high schoolers are shuttled between Valencia and West Ranch high schools.

Hunt Williams, owner of the Sterling Gateway property, emerged about a year ago as the dark horse contender among land developers competing for the school contract.

At the time, the school site considered was adjacent to the industrial park on Commerce Court.

One of the selling points considered by school board members at the time was the school's accessibility, tucked in the northwest elbow of Interstate 5 and Highway 126.

Other sites short-listed by the Hart board included:

n Mandolin Canyon

n Romero Canyon

n Hasley Canyon

n Hasley Lombardi

Castaic residents have been awaiting a high school campus for more than 10 years.

In 2003, the Hart district signed an agreement with developer SunCal for a picturesque site for the school in the proposed NorthLake development overlooking Castaic Lake.

Last month, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. of New York - the 158-year-old investment bank that funded many of SunCal's land development projects - declared bankruptcy.

The bankruptcy had nothing to do with the decision by Hart board members to look elsewhere for a high school site.

NorthLake stopped being a viable option for board members in January, Mercado-Fortine said.

The school is not the only development on the horizon for Sterling Gateway.

On Tuesday, the land development company appeared before the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission seeking permission to build 36 industrial lots on 116 acres at the end of Witherspoon.

The plan calls for five debris basins to be installed since the property runs parallel to the Santa Clara River. As well, Sterling Gateway wants permission to remove four oak trees on the property.

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