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Alhambra Reopens School Site Search

June 08, 1986|ALAN MALTUN | Times Staff Writer

ALHAMBRA — Citing concerns expressed by Rosemead residents and city officials, Alhambra High School District officials say they will reopen their study of possible sites for a new high school campus.

The Alhambra district--which serves students from elementary school districts in Rosemead, San Gabriel and Monterey Park as well as Alhambra--had narrowed its choices to three sites, all in Rosemead south of the San Bernardino Freeway. An environmental impact report was ordered for the sites in April.

But South Rosemend residents whose houses would have to be acquired to assemble the sites have been increasingly vocal in their opposition to the selections and have pressed the Alhambra Board of Education to extend its site search to other communities in the district.

Strong Opposition

Last week, after a joint meeting with the Rosemead City Council, which reiterated strong community opposition to the south Rosemead sites, the Alhambra School Board decided in a closed session to take another look at the issue.

The board directed its staff to work on plans for a districtwide study that would cover other communities south of the freeway, including South San Gabriel and Monterey Park, and return with a recommendation at the June 17 board meeting.

Board Member Dora Padilla said she believes the new study will show that the board's original south Rosemead choices are the best ones, and therefore it does not represent a change in the posture of the Alhambra board, which had insisted that a districtwide site search was unnecessary.

"It will add to our proof," Padilla said. "I look at it as a reinforcement. I think it will remove any doubt in peoples' minds that the site selected will be where the need is."

Rosemead City Manager Frank Tripeppi said he was pleased with Alhambra's decision to review the matter. He said the joint session "opened up lines of communication that long needed to be opened up."

Tripeppi said the city did not want to be "obstructionist," but that it had informed Alhambra officials it would stand by its September, 1985, resolution that hinted at legal action if the new school displaces Rosemead residents.

But Gilbert Barron, president of the Garvey School District Board of Education, which serves elementary students in south Rosemead, expressed skepticism about the proposal.

"Number one, the Alhambra district is taking a procedural step to avoid legal action by anybody," Barron said. "I am gratified that they are taking a broader view . . . but I still must maintain some semblance of reality that that is merely procedural."

Legal Action Vowed

The Garvey school board has opposed the three south Rosemead locations under consideration and has vowed a legal fight to stop construction of a high school on Alhambra's preferred site, a 42.6-acre parcel on Graves Avenue across from the Maryvale Orphanage.

Garvey officials contend that the Graves Avenue site is particularly poor because it is within blocks of five elementary schools and the orphanage, and they say it would require purchasing 174 houses, including Barron's.

The other sites under consideration are the Los Angeles Dealer Auto Auction north of Garvey Avenue on Del Mar Avenue and an adjacent parcel on Whitmore Street between Del Mar and San Gabriel Boulevard.

Estelle Holtz, a community activist who once organized pickets against the Alhambra school board, was encouraged by the district's promise of a new study.

'First Crack in Veneer'

"This has been a long haul, and this is the first crack in the veneer," Holtz said.

There is general agreement that a fifth campus is needed to relieve overcrowding among the 10,000 students attending Alhambra, Mark Keppel, San Gabriel and Century Continuation high schools--all in the city of Alhambra.

Alhambra officials say that they chose south Rosemead because some of the most serious overcrowding is at Mark Keppel, the only high school south of the San Bernardino Freeway.

Many south Rosemead residents have maintained that the new campus should be in Monterey Park, but Alhambra officials say suitable land in that hilly city is scare and too expensive.

Barron said that if the Alhambra board decides to build in south Rosemead, he personally favors construction of the campus on a 40-acre parcel on the northern end of Whittier Narrows Golf Course, a location previously considered and rejected, by the Alhambra district.

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