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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | COUNTYWIDE / VENTURA

Mission, Chumash Reach Agreement

January 08, 1998|HILARY E. MacGREGOR

The head of the San Buenaventura Mission and a local Chumash group have reached an agreement that clears the way for the $5.5-million expansion of Holy Cross School.

The expansion is planned on the land behind the mission, on top of what was the quadrangle of the old mission complex. Before building, the mission was required to bring in an archeologist to document what was there.

That was last summer. Groundbreaking for the school expansion began in September.

The October discovery of the floor plans of the ancient mission by a Santa Barbara curator brought even more attention to the project.

But after months of meetings, the mission and the Ventureno Chumash--Chumash who came from Ventura--reached a compromise in late December.

The agreement, signed by Msgr. Patrick O'Brien and Regina Wilcox, a Ventureno Chumash, states that if the old school is demolished, no structure will be built there.

Instead a monument to the Chumash people will be erected. This is important because the old school sits atop an ancient Chumash cemetery.

The agreement states that the area beneath and to the immediate rear of the existing Holy Cross School will be left untouched and held by deed by the Ventureno Chumash.

It also states that future Native American monitors of the archeological site will be chosen from a list of four people provided to the monsignor by Chumash and that changes in construction plans will immediately be given to the Chumash Advisory Committee.

Perhaps most important, the agreement means that construction of a retaining wall at the rear of the site can move forward. Work on that began last week.

As winter rains began to fall, and construction continued to be held up by disagreements, city officials began to worry that the hillside would erode, possibly bringing down a portion of Poli Street.

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