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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | EAST COUNTY / SIMI VALLEY

Board Delays Vote on Sale of 36 Acres

November 27, 1998|TONY LYSTRA

Hoping that new City Council members could mean smoother negotiations, the school board has voted to postpone a final decision to sell a 36-acre parcel it owns near City Hall.

The Simi Valley Unified School District Board of Education considered a resolution Tuesday to sell the property at Tapo Canyon Road and Alamo Street for no less than $10.5 million.

The surplus property, one of the last major open parcels in the city, has been a thorn in the district's side because it could hamper its ability to acquire state funding.

City and school officials have debated how the land would best serve the city. And just when it seemed that the school board was set to approve a sale, it instead voted 3 to 2 to table the issue until its first meeting in February.

Board members Janice DiFatta, Caesar Julian and Norman Walker voted to hold off on deciding the property's fate, while Carla Kurachi and Diane Collins wanted to proceed with the sale.

Walker said he favors delaying a decision so the district can take another shot at working with city officials--particularly those new to city government--to come up with a land use that serves the entire community.

He said earlier that he wanted to create a civic center on the property, which is across the street from City Hall. One option could be building a new school district office on part of the land, he said.

"I'm hopeful that we can come up with something that will allow us to develop a true civic center," Walker said.

But Collins said the board needed to aggressively move to get the property sold--a process that could take place while the district continues its discussions with the city regarding an ideal use for the land.

"If we keep delaying this, it could hurt us in getting in line for that bond money that was passed," she said.

Surplus property has been cited as a factor that the state could use against a district applying for renovation and building funds--particularly money from the passage of Proposition 1A earlier this month.

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