View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


Castaic high school study shows residents' concerns for access

Many who commented on the draft EIR want dual access the day the school opens

Posted: September 17, 2012 6:20 p.m.
Updated: September 17, 2012 6:21 p.m.

After months of discussion, a public hearing and a 45-day comment period, Castaic residents’ concerns about the proposed new high school site continued to revolve around road access, Hart district officials said Monday.

The Sept. 6 conclusion of a 45-day comment period for the district’s plan is the most recent milestone in the William S. Hart Union High School District’s more-than-decade-long quest to bring a high school to the northwest Santa Clarita Valley.

At least 80 percent of the comments on the draft environmental impact report focused on dual access to the proposed campus, said Tom Cole, chief operations officer for the Hart district.

Since the document’s release, 228 comments have been received via email, fax and postage, with “about 95 percent” sent via email, Cole said.

Nearly all of the controversy for the site surrounds the question of how will parents, staff and students get to the school if the campus is built near the undeveloped and relatively remote intersection of Romero Canyon and Sloan Canyon roads.

Most of the comments call for Scenario 2 in the report, which combines a northern route from Sloan Canyon Road to the school with a secondary southern access point through Barringer and Romero Canyon roads.

Scenario 1 in the district plan would not call for a secondary access road until the school’s enrollment reaches 1,600 students.

Hart district board President Gloria Mercado-Fortine said addressing all of the community’s concerns was of the utmost priority, even if it meant delaying the high school that been planned for site after site for more than 10 years.

“We always knew we would eventually get to the secondary access. What was a little surprising was that (the commenters) wanted the dual access from day one,” Mercado-Fortine said.

“However, the major point that was made to us was that they wanted it when the school is open,” she said. “And that does present some problems in our time line and cost.”

Some high school supporters have said the most recent push to demand dual access on the day the school opens is a stall tactic by the school’s opponents.

“I fully believe that (the push for dual access from day one) is an effort to try and slow (the high school) down, if not derail it,” said John Zaring, a Castaic resident who has actively pulled for a high school in the area.

In the final days of the comment period, a series of “hit” fliers claimed dangers in one of the access routes.

“I think that they can open the school with one access,” Zaring said, “as long as they are actively building the second access road.”

However, some were just leery of inviting in a one-way-in, one-way-out situation similar to that on Valencia Boulevard near West Ranch and Rancho Pico.

Robert Mower of Castaic lives on Romero Canyon Road not far from where it intersects with Sloan Canyon. He four school-aged children.

“I probably have a unique situation with access to Romero Canyon and to Sloan Canyon roads,” he said. “But regardless, I think there needs to be dual access from day one.”

The lengthiest response was from the group Citizens for Castaic, which long opposed the Romero Canyon site. The group hired a legal firm to submit a 46-page response to the district’s site report.

The comment offers multiple attacks on the district’s procedure, including a claim of no similar study of a viable alternative property.

The district released the first draft of its environmental impact report July 24, then held a public hearing on the document Aug. 15, which gave a preview of residents’ response.

At an Aug. 15 public hearing, approximately 20 residents showed up, and eight expressed varying concerns about access.

Cole, who is in charge of responding to community concerns — with help from district staff and counsel — said it would be premature to comment on how dual access from the day the school opens might affect the district’s final outcome on the site, financially or otherwise.

Right now, the district is in the process of formalizing its responses to the hundreds of comments.

“We’re going through all these comments relative to the information provided in the comment,” Cole said. “And then we’ll start putting together a response to those comments together and those will be distributed.”




Most Popular Articles

There are no articles at this time.
Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...