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Community Digest

Whittier

September 12, 1985

After weeks of protests by several hundred neighbors, the Lowell Joint School District board has agreed to remove three gasoline storage tanks at Lowell School, which was closed a decade ago and is now a district maintenance yard.

Residents of the densely populated neighborhood around the former elementary school claimed the underground tanks, which can hold up to 6,500 gallons of gas, posed a serious safety threat and violated county zoning ordinances. District officials installed the tanks in late July as part of an expansion of the maintenance yard at the school, which was built in 1961 in an unincorporated county area southeast of Whittier.

The school--at 11537 S. Grovedale --was originally called Grovedale, but after it closed in 1975 because of declining enrollment, the name was changed to Lowell School. In recent years, officials have stored vehicles and equipment at the school site, and adding the gas tanks was an attempt to consolidate district operations, Supt. Ronald Randolph said.

Trustees voted unanimously last week to move the tanks to a site near district headquarters on Valley Home Avenue, which is not in a residential area. Randolph said it cost about $40,000 to install the tanks and will cost $30,000 to move them.

"This is an expensive proposition," Randolph said, "but the board agreed to do this as an act of good faith for those who objected." A timetable for tank removal will be decided at the board's Sept. 23 meeting.

Despite plans to remove the tanks, longtime resident I. A. Ryanen said his group--Neighbors Opposing Gasoline and Storage (NO GAS)--will push for closure of the district maintenance yard at Lowell. He said it is "loud, dirty and a blight on the neighborhood."

Randolph said the district has no plans to move the maintenance yard, which has been in operation for 2 1/2 years.

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