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Proposed School Location : Safety Tests Urged at South Gate Site

September 18, 1988|PATRICIA WARD BIEDERMAN | Times Staff Writer

A committee of the Los Angeles Board of Education has recommended that the school district take the next step toward building a regional high school on an industrial site in South Gate.

At a meeting Thursday, the board's building committee recommended that the safety of water and soil at the 36-acre site east of Atlantic Avenue be evaluated. The district cannot begin acquiring the property until environmental testing has been completed.

A consulting firm recently advised the district that air at the location would probably cause no permanent harm to students if fine-particle pollution from Universal Cast Iron's foundry is eliminated.

Board member and committee head Leticia Quezada said the call for continued environmental study of the site is "a signal that we're moving forward. If all goes well, that's where (a regional high school) will be located."

District officials are prepared to spend an unprecedented $300,000 to determine the safety of the site, roughly bounded by Wood Avenue, Aldrich Road, Atlantic Avenue and Burtis Street, next to the Los Angeles River.

The district hopes to build a high school for 2,000 or more students from South Gate, Bell and Cudahy, which have some of the most crowded schools in the district.

Tweedy Elementary School, which closed and moved to temporary quarters last year because of pollution from the nearby Purex bleach plant, would also move to the site.

The district had originally considered a larger site but decided to spare some homes, including those on Wood between Atlantic and Burtis. If the district decides to build on the site, it will buy Universal Cast Iron, to eliminate pollution from the outmoded foundry.

Business Would Be Displaced

Opponents of the proposed site include South Gate business owners who will be displaced if the school is built. Even proponents say the site is far from ideal because of its longtime industrial use but underscore the need for more classrooms in the area.

The building committee directed district staff to continue looking for alternate sites, in case the proposed property fails environmental tests.

"There's no easy answer," South Gate activist Willene Cooper said. "If there were, we would have found it."

The entire board is expected to vote on the committee's recommendations in the next few weeks.

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