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New Site Proposed For Castaic High School

Third time around may actually bring campus to north area.

The
third potential site for Castaic High
School will be presented to the William S. Hart
District Governing Board tonight after a series of meetings with property
owners and other area stakeholders. This round’s winner: a 50-acre parcel dubbed
Sterling Gateway Residential that could cost the district $20 million.

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The
property, located at the end of Whitherspoon Parkway
off Commerce Court in the Valencia
Commerce Center,
is close to utilities and does not seem to have a negative impact on the
community. Mercado-Fortine and fellow board member Steven Sturgeon presented
the site to the Castaic Town Council Wednesday night for their consideration.

“Prior
to making this recommendation, we met in small groups with members of the Castaic
(Schools) governing board and with members of the Castaic Town Council, because
they’re representatives of the community,” said board member Gloria
Mercado-Fortine, who served on the growth subcommittee.

“They
all have plusses and minuses, there is not one property that is 100 percent
perfect or one where we’re going to get 100 percent endorsement,” she said,
admitting that each parcel being considered had some drawbacks. “But certainly
from the input, this has the least amount of impact on any community.”

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“All
of the properties are in the Hasley Canyon/Val Verde area, with the Sterling
more in Val Verde,” she continued. “There is no traffic that is going to go
through the canyons in Hasley, Sloan or Del Valle. All the traffic will come
off Hasley to Commerce or off the 126. Access and egress is completely in the
commercial and industrial park.”

While
the property is labeled “Residential,” Mercado-Fortine said that the school
would take over the residential portion of the Sterling/Gateway development and
would be surrounded by open space, a requirement for any type of development of
the property. In addition, utilities are only 1,000 feet away, as opposed to
having to bring utilities in to other parcels from a mile or two away.

Should
the board approve the parcel, then negotiations for a final purchase price
would commence. Mercado-Fortine said the estimated cost is $20 million and that
doesn’t include building the school. Other variables include whether the
acreage is decreased, which she doesn’t think will happen because “Golden
Valley and West Ranch were a little small,” and the
topography of the parcel, which may require building the school on different
tiers or levels.

The
public is invited to comment on the matter at tonight’t meeting, which will be
held at 6:45 p.m. in the District
Board Room at 21515 Centre Pointe Parkway.

Background:

In
2002, the district started searching for appropriate property in Castaic for a
high school and found three: Hasley/Sloan, Northlake and Hasley/Del Valle. The
Hasley/Sloan property was the board’s first pick and the property was purchased
by the Santa Clarita Valley Facilities Foundation. Community objections,
centered around access and egress to the property as well as the school’s
potential impacts on the rural ambience of Hasley
Canyon, caused Supervisor Michael
Antonovich to step in on behalf of the residents and the board backed away.

In
2004, the Northlake property was put forth as the next potential school site;
it was part of a mitigation agreement with SunCal developers to provide a
graded school site in exchange for Northlake residential development. Site
concerns included water, grading plan changes by the developer and the
inability of SunCal to get approval from County Regional Planning for their
development. That property was not purchased, but the site was taken off the
drawing board.

In
2006, the search began anew and in 2007, the Hart Governing Board formed a
Growth Committee comprised of two board members, the district’s superintendent
and staff members, who have been investigating several sites. Six sites were
under consideration: Mandoline Canyon (west of the I-5, approximately 1 mile
from the end of Parker Road); Romero Canyon (west of the I-5, approximately 1
miles from the end of Romero Canyon Road); the foundation-owned Hasley/Sloan
property; Hasley/Lombardi (immediately adjacent to Hasley/Sloan); Sterling
Commercial (adjacent to the Commerce Center) and Sterling Residential.

It
is the Sterling Residential property that the committee is recommending to the Governing
Board for approval.