ROSSMOOR : Homeowners to Vote on Buying Parkland

Homeowners will go to the polls Tuesday to decide whether a new park is worth an additional $109 a year in property taxes.

The election, which is advisory only, will be used to measure public opinion by the Rossmoor Community Services District, a five-member body that oversees street, landscaping and park maintenance in this unincorporated community of 11,500 people.

The district will determine whether to buy the vacant, 8 1/2-acre Rush Elementary School site on Blume Drive and Silver Fox Road from the Los Alamitos Unified School District based on election results and voter turnout, said Dan Stone, general manager of the community services district.

If there is a large turnout of property owners and a majority vote yes, an assessment district will be formed to buy the Rush site through a 30-year, $5-million bond, Stone said.

"If all (property owners) vote and more than 50% say yes, then there would be no question," Stone said. "If only 10% voted, it would be up to the board to make a decision based on that turnout."

If there is a large turnout and the majority vote no, the Rush site sale will not go through and the school district will sell the Lee Elementary School property on Silverwood Drive to a housing developer, said Ron Murrey, business manager for the school district.

"Our concern is we've budgeted for $400,000 of interest income from the sale of property for this next fiscal year," Murrey said. "We need to bring in revenue (by) selling either Rush to the community services district or Lee to a developer."

The Rush school site is worth an estimated $6 million, Murrey said, but it would be sold to the community services district for $4.2 million. A state law requires that 30% of the site be made available by the school district to other government agencies for 25% of its value.

The election is unusual for two reasons: It is being conducted by the Los Angeles-based American Arbitration Assn. and not the county registrar of voters, and only one vote is allowed for each of the 3,700 property parcels in Rossmoor.

For instance, if a husband and wife jointly own a home, only one will be allowed to cast a vote, Stone said.

The district's board of directors had wanted to buy the site without a vote, based on an advisory committee's recommendations and a questionnaire sent to all property owners. A 1972 state law gives community service districts the right to form assessment districts to purchase and maintain parklands without a vote, Stone said.

Rossmoor now has one large park--the 10-acre Rossmoor Park on Hedwig Road--and two mini-parks on Kempton Drive and Foster Road.

There are two polling locations for Tuesday's election--Rossmoor Park, at 3232 Hedwig Road, and Montecito Community Center, 12341 Montecito Road.

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