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Garvey Board Opposes Choice of School Site

February 09, 1986|MARY BARBER | Times Staff Writer

Garvey School District board members have joined Rosemead city officials and hundreds of residents in opposing the Alhambra School District's choice of a site for a new high school.

The Garvey board last week announced that it wants the school built on 40 acres along the northern end of Whittier Narrows Golf Course, instead of the site preferred by the Alhambra school board, 42.6 acres on Graves Avenue across from Maryvale Orphanage. Both sites are in Rosemead.

The Alhambra School District, covering all or parts of four cities and fed by three elementary school districts, has received state approval for funds for a new school to relieve overcrowding in its three high schools.

Although they declared their preference for the Graves Avenue site last fall, Alhambra board members said they will weigh other alternatives before making their decision.

The Garvey board asked Alhambra board members to change their minds at a joint meeting at which they proposed the easternmost of the five sites under consideration, all in Rosemead where the district's greatest growth is expected. The Garvey choice is bordered by the Rio Hondo River, Garvey Avenue, Muscatel Avenue and the golf course.

Garvey members said their choice, called Site B, will save $880,000 because it involves 2 1/2 acres less than the Alhambra board's choice, called Site C. They said that homes of 79 students living in the Site B area would be removed for a new school there; the homes of 182 elementary students are in the area covered by Site C.

Pressed for Room

The Alhambra School District's high schools--Alhambra, San Gabriel and Mark Keppel--are in the city of Alhambra and have a combined enrollment of about 10,000, although they were built to accommodate only 7,000. The district covers Alhambra, San Gabriel, most of Monterey Park and part of Rosemead. Its students come from elementary schools in the Garvey, San Gabriel and Alhambra districts.

Alhambra Supt. Bruce Peppin said the final decision is in the hands of the Alhambra board, which is expected to narrow its choices on the basis of land costs, existing population and projected growth, and environmental studies.

When the Alhambra board announced its preference for the Graves Avenue site last fall, hundreds of residents opposed the location, saying it would displace more than 400 families and would create traffic and crowds that could endanger children attending five nearby elementary and intermediate schools. The board's choice was the top recommendation of a consulting firm that chose and studied all the sites on the basis of land costs, acquisition rights and several other factors. But board President C. C. Scanlon said the board is still open to alternatives.

The Rosemead City Council has opposed cnstruction of a new high school in the city. Rosemead High School, in the city's northern area, is in El Monte Union High School District. The council says most of the proposed new school's students live outside Rosemead and should attend school closer to home.

Alhambra Has Authority

But Rosemead City Manager Frank Tripepi said the Alhambra school board has the legal right to locate the new school wherever it wants, "and all Rosemead can do is ask them not to."

Supt. Peppin said, "The board doesn't want to have any problems with any segment of the government, but the final responsibility rests with the Alhambra board."

Last week's joint board meeting was one of several public hearings held to discuss the site selection. There was no opposition from the public, which heard the Garvey choice for the first time. Several speakers noted, however, that a new school is "long overdue" and pressed for a decision soon.

Enrollment in the Alhambra district has increased about 20% in the past five years. Peppin said schools are using portable classrooms, rooms designed for other purposes and rented areas to meet swelling demands for space.

$50 Million School

John Perko, assistant superintendent in Alhambra, said the new school will cost about $50 million. The state will pay 85% of the cost and the Alhambra School District will pay the remainder. He said 40 acres will be needed to house the anticipated 3,000 students and for athletic fields.

He said that once the board decides on a site, it will take about three months to conduct an environmental study and another six months to relocate residents.

"If everything fell into place, we're talking about five to six years before the school would be completed--provided we don't get into extended litigation," Perko said.

Other sites designated for consideration are two north of Garvey Avenue near Del Mar Avenue and one east of Walnut Grove Avenue south of Fern Avenue.

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