LeBard school site to have 15 homes

The city of Huntington Beach has entered into an agreement that will limit the number of single-family homes planned for the former LeBard Elementary School site.

The memorandum of understanding between the city and the Huntington Beach City School District will also allow the two agencies, residents and the Seaview Little League to continue refining the plans on how the property should be divided and developed, said Ken Domer, assistant city manager.

The items passed in a 5 to 2 vote, with Councilmen Dave Sullivan and Joe Carchio dissenting.

The LeBard property, a 4-acre swath that includes the school district's headquarters, will be sold to a residential developer, who plans to build 15 residential units at a yet-to-be-disclosed price.

The school district is selling the adjacent parcel, about 6.6 acres currently used for Little League fields, to the city for about $3.17 million.

In December, the district was pushing for 25 residential units to be built while giving the city control over the fields at no cost. Additionally, the district would have given the city $1.1 million.

Along with the reduction of homes, the school district agreed to build a snack bar and storage areas as well as provide various improvements to the walkways, irrigation systems and fences, according to a staff report. The district would absorb the cost of those improvements.

"We believe that the 15-lot proposal has merit, saves the open space for public recreational purposes and allows the building of single-family homes on the footprint of the existing LeBard building on the site," said Ed Kerins, a former Huntington Beach planning commissioner and a 45-year resident of the area.

Kerins and others who had opposed the project are satisfied with the compromise.

However, members of the Little League still have concerns about the conceptual sketches.

The plans show the loss of a coach-pitch field and the relocation of the T-ball field near the outfield of what is known as the Major League playing area.

Christine Zeutzius, a second-grade teacher at Hawes Elementary, said losing that field would be devastating to the 120 children playing in the Coach-Pitch Division.

"This field is the crux, the kingpin of our league," she said. "The Coach-Pitch Division always has the largest amount of children playing in it. It's where the foundation of our Little League presents itself to the community and to our players."

Zeutzius, whose children are in the Sunview Little League, one of them in Coach-Pitch, compared the loss of that field to an elementary school with a kindergarten but no first grade.

"The loss of our Coach-Pitch field could possibly decimate our league, little by little," she said.

Additionally, other parents were concerned with the relocation of the T-ball field, which would be positioned near the outfield of Sunview's Major League division.

Domer said there is still plenty of time to talk with the school district to rework the plans in order to keep the two fields where they are.

City School District Supt. Gregg Haulk said Tuesday that his staff is already looking into how to keep the current field configuration.

"What we heard loud and clear last night was that they want to keep the Little League fields so that they have all six fields," he said. "We'll work on a plan that gets that in there and also, as a fine balance, make sure that we put as much parking as we possibly can without disturbing the park."

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