Environmental impacts slow plans on new school

CARLSBAD — During the Jan. 14 board meeting of the Carlsbad Unified School District, the school board delayed a decision to certify the Environmental Impact Report, or, EIR, on the newest high school for the district.
The $95 million school will be located near Cannon Road and College Boulevard and is designed to ease overcrowding at Carlsbad High School. Funding was created by the voter-approved Proposition P in 2006.
However, environmental issues have slowed the project, and the certification of the recent EIR.
Concerns surround plans for a 4,000-seat stadium, to be built along Calavera Creek, a major riparian area and wildlife corridor, and the impact the lighting and noise levels will have on those living in the area.
Residents and environmentalists showed up at the recent school board meeting to oppose the stadium plans as they were presented in the EIR. Many of those who spoke requested a buffer be created by reducing the number of stadium seats. Others said they would like to see games played in the daylight, to reduce the need for lighting. The 1,000-space parking lot would also create a lot of pollution from runoff, which they said will eventually end up in the nearby Agua Hedionda lagoon.
Some, however, praised the district for its efforts to design an “environmentally responsible facility.”
“Certainly it (the district) has done a number of things right,” said Diane Nygaard of Preserve Calavera, a nonprofit conservation group dedicated to protecting the natural resources of coastal North County. “But this project will cause permanent damage to the air, water and land of North County.”
According to Nygaard, a buffer around the riparian corridor is required by the city of Carlsbad, as outlined in its Habitat Management Plan, as well as the regional Multiple Habitat Conservation Program, and is required by state and federal law.
“Buffers affect a whole lot of species, the wildlife corridor and water quality,” Nygaard said.
According to John Roach, superintendent of Carlsbad Unified School District, the district is looking into the possibility of reducing the number of stadium seats and creating more of a buffer, but he stressed that the needs of the students could create “overriding considerations.”
The school board will meet again Feb. 11 to once again review the EIR.
According to Roach, the school grading and construction has already been delayed due to the nesting season of endangered birds nearby.
Once work begins, the noise of the construction will have to be monitored, he said.
Construction should begin in early 2010, with the opening of the new campus in the summer 2012.

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