HUNTINGTON PARK — A three-acre site that includes 39 residences west of Salt Lake Avenue Municipal Park has been chosen as the best location for a new elementary school to relieve overcrowded conditions at schools in the area.
The Los Angeles Board of Education voted Monday to study the environmental impact the school would have on the area. A relocation plan for the residents who would be displaced will be developed as well.
The environmental study is expected to take up to nine months. After that, the Board of Education will decide whether to build the school on the site, said Rodger Friermuth, facilities project manager.
In anticipation of the board action, residents whose homes and apartments would be razed have begun circulating petitions calling for the school to be built elsewhere.
"We like this neighborhood," said Maria Delgado, who, with her brothers and sisters, owns a house and four apartments on Newell Street within the proposed school site. "The reason we bought this house is because it's next to the park."
If all goes as planned, the school could open in three to five years, Friermuth said. It would be built in the area between Florence and Saturn avenues, and between the east side of Newell Street and the park. It would accommodate about 1,000 students on a year-round schedule.
The site was selected over three others because it is less expensive, and fewer residences and businesses would have to be displaced, Friermuth said. "It takes the least amount of property," he said.
According to a school district report, two single-family houses, 37 apartments, a radiator shop, two offices and a beauty shop would have to be purchased by the district and razed. The district, which has condemnation powers, would be required to pay fair-market value for the properties.
The district has estimated the cost of purchasing the properties and relocating residents and businesses at $3.8 million. The projected costs for the other three sites range between $6.6 million and $13.2 million.
A proposed site in Bell would involve fewer residences--20. But nine businesses would have to be bought out and moved. The total cost would be $11.6 million, according to a district report.
The Newell Street site would be relatively inexpensive because the school district is seeking an agreement with Huntington Park to use a portion of Salt Lake Avenue Municipal Park for the school's playground. If the city agrees to the arrangement as expected, the school could be built on three acres instead of the five acres usually required for an elementary school and its playground, Friermuth said.
The Huntington Park City Council, which must approve such a joint-use agreement, has been meeting with school officials. The city would benefit from improvements, including new playground equipment, that the school district is expected to add to the park, officials said.
"We felt it probably is the best site because they will displace less people," Mayor William P. Cunningham said. "We think it could be a plus for us also because they're talking about putting some real bucks (into the park)."
Delgado said residents also object to a portion of the park being used for a school playground. She said it would cut back the number of hours the entire park is available to residents of Huntington Park and surrounding cities.
The new elementary school probably will be used to relieve overcrowded conditions at Miles Avenue Elementary School in Huntington Park and at State Street Elementary School in neighboring South Gate, Friermuth said.
Both schools operate year-round and have been at capacity for several years. About 100 students who would otherwise attend Miles Avenue Elementary are bused to other schools in the district, a school spokeswoman said. Ninety-one students are bused from State Street Elementary to other schools because of overcrowding.