LYNWOOD — A park that the city and the Lynwood school district have squabbled over as part of a potential site for a $34-million high school received strong support from residents who attended the first public hearing on the question.
A majority of those who spoke before the Lynwood Unified School District on Monday said they preferred Ham Memorial Park, which the City Council does not want to give up, over a second site under consideration. The second site encompasses a Zodys department store, Super Foods Market and the recreational field of the Seventh-day Adventist Academy and church.
"I'm disgusted and hurt that we would spend so much time arguing over a spot. I'm for the park. Don't move Zodys. My wife can't find a decent place to buy panty hose now," said C. C. Coleman, a Baptist minister. "I'm trying to save folks, and you are trying to send them out of town."
Speaker after speaker said the park would be the better choice because building the school there would cause less disruption to the community. Nearly 100 people attended the meeting in Bateman Hall, and more than 20 of them addressed the board.
Adventist officials have said they are opposed to sale of the church property. Representatives of the store and market have not yet expressed opinions, school board member Thelma Williams said.
The state Allocation Board, which distributes school building funds, approved money for the new school in 1983 to relieve crowding in the district's only high school. Lynwood High, built in 1931 to accommodate 900 students, now has an enrollment of more than 2,800.
Representatives of the Riverside architectural firm Ruhnau, McGavin, Ruhnau, whom the district hired to find a site, have said the park area would cause the least disruption. Other sites considered, the firm said, had problems such as being too small (31 acres are needed) or necessitating displacement of residents and businesses.
School district officials have said the park could be upgraded for use by both students and the public, but city officials have said they would not share it. The park now has a small building, some recreational equipment and picnic tables on its 10.6 acres.
City officials have also argued that Ham Park can be used only as a park because of a stipulation placed on it by Los Angeles County when it sold the land to the city in 1953.
A spokesman for the county said the school district could take the park through condemnation, but it would have to give the city the same amount of land elsewhere.
Replacement for Park
"You would have to search for another park, and the county would have to be satisfied with your replacement," said F. L. Coates, senior property manager in the county Engineering Department, during Monday's meeting.
The school board voted at a special meeting on April 27, 1984, to accept the Ham Park site, according to district minutes. Williams and board member Joe Battle said during Monday's hearing they still favor the park site. Board President Helen Andersen and Trustee William Hawn Reed, who was not a member when the board voted last year, said they would reserve judgment until an environmental study on the two sites is completed. Trustee Richard Armstrong did not comment.
The site that includes the park is bounded by Century Boulevard, the Long Beach Freeway, the route of the Century Freeway and Wright Road. About 16 homes and nearly as many small manufacturing businesses would have to be relocated if the Ham Park site became a high school campus, Coates said.
More than 30 homes near the Zodys and church properties would be affected if that site is chosen, Coates said. It is bounded by Imperial Highway, Harris and Hulme avenues and Le Sage Street. The district would need the church's playing field and all of the department store and market space to make room for the school, according to architect Gary McGavin.
Battle said he opposed the department store site because "there is no guarantee Zodys will relocate in our city."
Many other speakers also said they feared the city would lose sales tax revenue if the department store site were selected. Other speakers said they were concerned about potential conflicts between parochial and public school students, with the two schools so near each other.
Opponents of the park site said they were concerned about that area because the Willco Dump is about a mile away. A major interchange of the Century Freeway is slated to be built at the dump site, which is now closed. The state departments of Transportation and Health Services have said that more than 100,000 cubic yards of toxic waste will be moved from the dump to a landfill in the San Joaquin Valley.
The state required that the school district consider at least two sites in an environmental study, according to McGavin, who said many of the questions raised by the audience would be answered in that study.
The environmental study will cost $38,000 and take 60 to 90 days, McGavin said. He added that at least four public hearings, yet to be scheduled, will be part of that study.