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Bid for Marquez Canyon Land Withdrawn


PACIFIC PALISADES — A school has dropped its offer to buy 5.5 acres of open land in Pacific Palisades' Marquez Canyon, leaving the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, which owns the property, in a financial pickle with no buyer in sight.

The Village School, which had wanted to build a 250-student private elementary school in the canyon, withdrew its $1.4-million bid for the property last week, citing concern about opposition to its plans.

Conservancy officials have said the sale of the property is critical to its plans to go forward with long-awaited improvements at Temescal Gateway Park, which is also in Pacific Palisades.

And, officials have said, the agency may soon be forced to lay off some of its staff unless a buyer for the property is found.

The conservancy obtained the land last March from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power as part of a complicated arrangement to help finance the purchase of Fryman Canyon in the hills above Studio City.

To help raise the funds, the conservancy took $2 million from a trust fund earmarked for the Temescal Gateway Park improvements, with the understanding that the proceeds from the sale would reimburse the fund. But as efforts to sell the Marquez property have faltered, the conservancy has had to juggle its books to meet $350,000 in debts that are due on the Temescal project.

The conservancy, sensitive to its role in the Fryman Canyon purchase, had twice passed up chances to sell the Marquez property while trying to accommodate a neighborhood group that wanted to buy it to keep it from being developed. However, the group raised only $25,000.

The Marquez Canyon Preservation Assn. said it wanted to push for a special tax district to preserve it as parkland, but that effort also fizzled when Councilman Marvin Braude, who represents Pacific Palisades, said he would not pursue the idea unless 70% of the people who would have to foot the bill supported it.

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