TORRANCE — The city and the Torrance Unified School District have reached an agreement on the price and terms for the city's purchase of a former school site. However, a snag over wording that will allow the district to reacquire the site is holding up completion of the sale.
The agreement was reached last week when the Board of Education voted unanimously to accept the city's offer of $1.9 million for the 3.44-acre Greenwood School at 1520 Greenwood Ave. in central Torrance. The city is buying the site for a park.
The city will make a $700,000 down payment and pay the balance in two annual installments at 9% interest for a total of $2.062 million.
The district's agreement, however, made the sale under the provisions of the state Naylor Act. The act sets optional guidelines for cities to buy closed school sites, but includes a provision that allows the district at any time to reacquire the site for the purchase price plus cost-of-living adjustments.
The City Council this week said it would be willing to sell the property back to the district if it is ever needed for instructional purposes but didn't want the sale under the Naylor Act because it allows the district to buy back the site for any purpose.
Owen Griffith, president of the Board of Education, and Mayor Jim Armstrong said they believe the matter can be worked out.
"The major stumbling blocks had been the price and the payment schedule," Armstrong said. "This is just a matter of working out the language."
"It's a matter of the attorneys getting back together and working out the final language," Griffith said. "I think it can be worked out. The basic ideas are agreed upon and settled."
Last month it appeared the 11-month negotiations that strained relations between the two elected bodies would drag on even longer when the district and the city reached an agreement on the sale price but disagreed on how it should be paid.
The city had offered a $475,000 down payment with balance paid in three annual payments at 8% interest for a total of $2.1 million.
City Offer Rejected
The district rejected that offer, saying it wanted $1.6 million up front and the balance to be paid in three annual installments at 8% interest.
At the request of the City Council, City Manager LeRoy Jackson and Finance Director William Dundore determined that for the city to meet the district's request, the city would have had to use all of its available federal revenue sharing funds ($1 million), all available parks and recreation facilities funds ($100,000) and defer $500,000 in night lighting projects at two parks and construction of a storm drain.
Jackson suggested that the city could afford to take out $700,000 in federal revenue sharing funds now.
"The offer was a good-faith effort by the city," Griffith said last week. "I think it was a true compromise on both sides."
"We'll all benefit from this experience," Armstrong said. "We ought to now move forward to develop future strategies with the school board so this sort of thing does not happen again."