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Roberts Proposes Library, Community Center for Dana Site

Times Staff Writer

San Diego City Councilman Ron Roberts proposed Wednesday placing a new neighborhood library at the abandoned Dana Junior High School site in Point Loma and turning the six-year eyesore into a thriving community center.

Roberts, joined on the entry steps to the school by city schools Trustee Kay Davis, outlined conceptual plans for renovating the school’s 10,000-square-foot administration building for the new library, refurbishing the 750-seat auditorium into a community meeting and performance hall, and replacing the school’s athletic fields with three to four multipurpose sports fields.

The two officials conceded that their ideas are far from complete and cautioned that substantial interagency discussions and planning--particularly on costs--must be carried out before an active Dana facility becomes reality.

‘Lot of Work to Be Done’

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“Yes, there is a lot of work to be done,” Roberts said, citing agreements to be worked out between the City Council and the school board. “But I would hope that, by next year at the minimum, or two years at the maximum, we will have a ribbon cutting.”

The new plan comes less than three days after trustees of the San Diego Community College District abandoned plans to put a continuing-education center at Dana as part of a land-swap with the San Diego Unified School District. The swap and renovation of Dana would have cost the college district $7 million--largely because the school district let the Dana buildings deteriorate and be vandalized--and college administrators decided the economic and educational benefits could not justify the expenditure.

The key to Roberts’ library plan revolves around plans already made by the city for a new Point Loma library. The city has purchased vacant land next to the current cramped library, about a mile north of Dana, but has none of the estimated $2 million needed to tear down the existing structure and build the expanded facility.

Roberts wants to sell the two parcels, which he said Wednesday could command about $1 million, and use that money to lease Dana, refurbishing its original structure for the new library and remodeled auditorium. He said the actual cost of Dana’s renovation won’t be known until city planners have a chance to figure out what interior changes are required for library use.

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“Based on my experience, that amount ($1 million) is an opening guesstimate,” said Roberts, an architect by profession. He said more money probably would be required and could come from community fund raising, from a developers’ fee fund of $150,000 available for Point Loma projects and from other city sources.

$500,00 for Ball Fields

The school district would absorb the estimated $500,000 cost to install the ball fields, which would be used during the day by nearby Point Loma High School--the district’s smallest campus and lacking in athletic facilities--and by the community at nights and on weekends.

The library would occupy only one of three major Dana buildings, leaving questions about what to do with the two other structures. Davis said Wednesday that she hopes the city and school district can come up with ways of taking better care of the buildings while seeking money for child-care and senior-citizen activities that could use them.

Davis said removal of the other buildings would be foolish since planners cannot be certain that one day a school will not again be needed there.

The Dana buildings have sat vacant since the school was closed in June, 1983, because of declining enrollment. Roberts and Davis expect Point Loma residents to support the library plan as the only realistic solution. The community has been upset with the school district for years, since district officials proposed leasing Dana for 99 years to developers for high-density housing.

The single-family neighborhood fought that idea successfully, forcing the school board to cut to 25 years the maximum time for a school lease, a move that makes demolition of the existing buildings uneconomical for developers. In addition, the City Council last year passed zoning restrictions on closed school sites that limit uses to public activities unless special variances are granted.


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