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Castaic high environmental document to be released

Posted: July 1, 2012 7:00 a.m.
Updated: July 1, 2012 7:00 a.m.
 

 

Hart district officials are expected to release their draft environmental impact report early this month for the much-anticipated and -debated Castaic area high school.

The report will analyze the environmental impacts — including air quality, noise and traffic — of building a high school on 60 acres of land in an undeveloped portion of Castaic in Romero Canyon.

“People have been working on sections of (the report), and it will be out soon,” said Hart district spokeswoman Gail Pinsker.

Along with the environmental impacts of the current preferred site, the document will also include information about previously rejected sites and comparisons between the rejected sites and the preferred site, Pinsker said.

Castaic residents have been awaiting a high school for more than 20 years. Site after site has been considered, then rejected, as the years ticked by.

Meantime, students from Castaic attend either Valencia or West Ranch high schools, both of which have been overcrowded at times due to the influx of Castaic students.

In 2008, local voters supported Measure SA, a $300 million bond measure, part of which was set aside to fund the school construction.

The 60 acres being considered in the environmental impact report is for the proposed school site called the “hybrid site.”

The board initially approved an agreement with local developer Larry Rasmussen to build the school on his 49-acre Romero Canyon property. But when property adjoining Rasmussen’s went on the auction block, the school board agreed to buy part of that land and combine the two for a hybridized 60-acre site.

Campus construction would have required some two-story classrooms under the 49-acre proposal, but the extra acreage allows the high school to have single-story buildings instead, along with more room for parking and field space for the community.

Community criticism about the Romero Canyon site has included concerns about lack of access in case of wildfires or natural disasters, possible landslide activity and other concerns. The EIR is meant to address those issues.

District officials want to build the high school because of projected growth in the area, Pinsker said. She said the school would prevent other district high schools from becoming overcrowded.

“Our expectations and demographics show that the school is absolutely needed to avoid overcrowding in our other high schools in the future,” Pinsker said.

After the release of the hefty document, residents will have until Aug. 31 to comment, Pinsker said. A public hearing will also be held at 21515 Centre Pointe Parkway at 7 p.m. July 31.

After reading and responding to public comments, district officials expect to present the draft environmental impact report to the board by the end of summer, Pinsker said.

Officials are hoping to open the high school for about 300 freshmen in August 2015, Pinsker said.

“Everything is moving forward,” Pinsker said. “We’re still looking at fall 2015 to open it to freshmen.”

Additional classes would be phased in each year; the school would have the capacity for 2,600 students.

More information on the Castaic area high school can be found at http://www.hart.k12.ca.us/index.php/schools/castaic-high-school.

kjonas@the-signal.com
661-287-5517

 

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