Torrance : School Settlement Possible
The city and the Torrance Unified School District appear to be near a settlement in the sale of the former Greenwood School after representatives of the two bodies met in private talks last weekend.
Mayor Jim Armstrong and Owen Griffith, president of the school board, said in separate interviews this week that they are optimistic an agreement can be reached soon on a price for the 3.4-acre site. Although neither side would discuss any potential proposals, there were indications that a settlement would involve some creative financing.
At a board meeting Monday night, Trustee David Sargent said the board could not say exactly how far apart the two sides are in dollars because there are services the city could provide the district instead of cash. As an example, Sargent said, the city could paint buildings or provide asphalt coverings.
In an Oct. 1 letter to Griffith, Armstrong suggested that the city could pay the district’s lowest asking price of $1.85 million if the city was allowed to make payments over five years without interest. Armstrong also suggested that the city could lease the site, or that the district and the city could have joint use of some facilities, such as storage space, and coordinate activities like purchasing.
The school board and City Council discussed the proposals privately this week and are expected to send their representatives to meet again before next week.
Griffith said a public announcement of the settlement could be made as soon as Wednesday. That would be one day before the state Board of Education decides whether to grant the district a waiver from the Naylor Act, which requires the district to offer the closed school site to the city first, at a reduced rate, before making it available to private developers.
School Supt. Edward Richardson said the district wants the waiver even if an agreement is near because it needs leverage against the city, which has filed a lawsuit asking the court to force the district to sell the site to the city at a reduced price.
A temporary restraining order prohibits the district from selling the site to anyone but the city until a court hears the matter. No court date has been set.
Richardson said the district has lost about $20,000 a month in potential interest by not being able to sell the site during the nine months it has negotiated with the city.