Abandoned school site viewed for uses

first_imgCASTAIC – The Newhall County Water District is reviewing potential uses of a former elementary school site that was ordered abandoned by FEMA because it lies in the path of Castaic Dam, officials said Monday. The 18-acre property east of Interstate 5 along Ridge Route Road has been eyed by the Castaic Little League for a field complete with diamonds, concession stands and bleachers. But the water purveyor is bound by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which purchased the land and relocated the century-old Castaic Elementary in 1996 for fear the dam – built to withstand a magnitude-8.0 earthquake – could rupture and flood the property. Newhall Water now owns the land and has two wells there. The deed handed from FEMA restricts development, though small retailers, fast-food restaurants, a post office and a large apartment complex have sprouted around the abandoned property. Gutzeit said they are only in the first step in a process that would include federal scrutiny. “We are not land-use planners, so we’re not going to be the ones that make the call, whether it’s going to be used for Little League, soccer or croquet,” she said. “We’re just going to determine what level of use our board is comfortable with. After that, it’s out of our hands.” But any potential uses must account for environmental impacts, Gutzeit said. “Since it’s vacant for so long, we need to see if there is any adverse environmental impact by changing that,” she said. “Ultimately, what I would like to see is some kind of compromise between natural land and fields. If there are animals walking up and down the creek, I don’t know if it’s the best idea to have lights running until two in the morning. … But it’s up to the entire board.” Eugene Tong, (661) 257-5253 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant Still, NCWD General Manager Steve Cole said the agency’s engineering committee will meet this month to review whether – or how – the site could be used. “We’re just going to bounce some ideas around about the liabilities and possible uses for that site,” he said. Castaic Little League officials could not be reached for comment Monday. The league, whose season begins this month, serves some 200 players ages 7 to 14 from throughout western Santa Clarita Valley, and plays at the nearby Castaic Sports Complex. Officials have said it’s less than ideal – the facility only has dirt softball fields and is costly to lease. NCWD board member Randall Pfiester, who also the chairs the three-member engineering committee consisting of board members B.J. Atkins and Maria Gutzeit, said there are other hurdles, FEMA not withstanding. Newhall Water is currently drilling a third well on the site intended to replace in the next five years the two 50-year-old wells. “We have construction going on over there, so we don’t want anybody’s child endangered,” he said. “Anything we decide will have to be referred to our attorneys for approval and to FEMA as well.” last_img

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