The Coast News Group
NewsOld - DO NOT USE - The Coast NewsRancho Santa Fe

Groups challenge Carlsbad school district on new site

CARLSBAD — Two groups have joined the city of Carlsbad in filing lawsuits against the Carlsbad Unified School District.
A developer, Bentley-Wing Properties, and Preserve Calavera, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the natural resources of coastal North County, have joined the city by filing lawsuits March 12 and March 13, respectively.
The lawsuits challenge the results of an Environmental Impact Report approved Feb. 11 by the school district for the newly proposed high school to be located on 57-acres at the corner of College Boulevard and Cannon Road.
District officials have said the school is much needed to help with the overcrowding of the high school off Carlsbad Village Drive. Voters agreed and construction is set to begin on the nearly $1 million school in September, with completion scheduled for 2012.
Although supportive of the school, Preserve Calavera has had concerns with the proximity of the school’s proposed stadium along the wildlife corridor of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon watershed, and has issued a statement outlining its position that the location of the project compromises the, “wildlife movement corridor and will cause negative view, noise and air quality impacts to the plants, animals and people.”
For their part, the city of Carlsbad is concerned with traffic issues and two road extensions, which are yet to be completed. Officials there have said the district’s traffic study projections of 29 percent of the traffic to use College Boulevard are low. The projections should be much higher once the road is competed, City Attorney Ronald Ball said.
College Boulevard and Cannon Road both meet at the school site, and the extension of Cannon Road, called “Reach 4,” is also not yet complete, and there are no plans for the completion before the school construction is finished.
Officials have said the completion of roads such as College Boulevard is usually paid by developers. However, developments for the area are not yet under way, so the school would open without the road extensions.
District officials have said they are hoping for a “friendly” resolution to the issues.
“The only reason we had to do this is to preserve our legal rights,” Ball said, but he added that all sides are indeed talking.
“The district has been negotiating and will continue to negotiate with the city, the agencies and organizations in an attempt to resolve issues regarding the construction the new high school … that the Carlsbad voters overwhelmingly approved as part of the Prop. P bond measure,” John Roach, superintendent of the Carlsbad Unified School District, said. 
However, Roach added, “We want to continue construction on schedule to we can make the best use of the bond money, and provide the exceptional high school facility our citizens want and deserve.”