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Sale of school site doesn't sit well with some

H.B. City School District says headquarters on LeBard Park land is falling apart; residents say plan to move is fiscally unsound.

March 12, 2013|By Alicia Lopez

Sparks continue to fly between residents and the Huntington Beach City School District over the future of the LeBard Park and school site near Brookhurst Street and Indianapolis Avenue.

LeBard Park includes several baseball diamonds, parkland and a parking lot adjacent to what was formerly LeBard Elementary School at 20451 Craimer Lane. The building is now being used as school district headquarters, and administrators describe it as dilapidated and in need of replacement.

At issue are 15 acres owned by three parties. Part of the land, 10 acres, is owned by the school district. The city owns the adjoining 3-acre neighborhood park. Next to that is 2 acres of Southern California Edison land. Edison is cooperating with the district to repurpose its parcel.

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The district has been holding meetings to discuss the proposals and the progression of the project, which could include 30 new homes.

The proposed plan is to transfer 5 acres of school district property to the city at no cost and sell 5 acres to a developer. That would increase parkland from 3 to 8 acres. With the Edison property, the parcel would total 10 acres.

Along with some improvements made to the city park and Edison property — including six permanent baseball fields and parking — the district wants to use funds from the sale of the land to pay for a new headquarters at another location as well as other facility improvements.

"We're trying to get ourselves into a facility that meets the needs of our employees," said Asstistant Supt. Jon Archibald.

According to Archibald, the district's administrative building is in such bad shape that it would require $3 million to $5 million from the general fund to refurbish.

Opponents are angry that even though half of the 10 acres of school property would be used for parkland, the remainder would be sold for development of 30 single-family homes.

"I would rather see half of the proposed houses being built where the old school is located," Huntington Beach resident Alan Walls said.

A residential development would require Huntington Beach City Council approval.

Many residents of the neighborhood, commonly called Suburbia Park, have spoken out against the deal, saying the district is wasting money on development plans instead of renovating an existing building. They are also concerned about added traffic from the proposed homes.

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