San Pedro residents are seeking alternative uses for 27 acres of surplus Navy property, as doubt lingers over a homeless project that federal officials approved for the site.
The property could be used as a Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy nature preserve, senior citizen housing, Los Angeles Police Department training ground, or Habitat for Humanity housing for disadvantaged families, said Doane Liu, chairman of the San Pedro Area Reuse Committee.
Those were among 10 alternatives discussed at a committee meeting last week.
Although the plans are preliminary, Liu said, the community is trying to develop as many ideas as possible for the Taper Avenue site, which Navy personnel will leave when the Long Beach Naval Station closes this summer.
"It's difficult for us to go much further until we know whether or not the property is going to be available for those uses," he said.
Federal officials gave permission this year to Turner's Technical Institute, a South-Central business school, to run a homeless center for up to 880 people. But a number of questions have been raised about the institute and its application.
The federal Housing and Urban Development Department is investigating whether two large tanks containing aviation fuel are too close to the 140 housing units on the site to meet federal regulations.
The department is expected to complete its investigation this week, spokesman Jack Flynn said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services, which approved Turner Technical's application in February, is conducting an investigation of the organization.
Opponents of the homeless shelter plan allege that Turner Technical's former executive director, Johnathon Marzet, forged letters of support and falsified his educational qualifications in the application for the site. Marzet resigned from the institute after the allegations were made.
The application also claims that the organization has the financial support of at least 18 local businesses, but Marzet has declined to identify them.
Marzet said last week that four shelter agencies in San Pedro have agreed to form a consortium to help Turner's Technical run the shelter.
But Nancy Berlin, community services director of Harbor Interface Shelter, said although the groups have met with Marzet, none agreed to help.
The institute's plan seems overly ambitious, Berlin said, and too many questions have been raised about the application. "Nobody really wants to move ahead until it's all cleared up," she said.
Marzet met with the San Pedro organizations April 18 after he resigned from Turner's Institute, but did not tell them he was no longer the group's executive director, Berlin said.
Priscilla Turner, president of Turner's Technical, has declined comment.
Marzet, her neighbor in South-Central, said he had not seen Turner for a long time and that she was on the East Coast visiting her parents.
Although Marzet had told The Times it could interview Turner and the the group's board of directors last week, he was unable to arrange that meeting.
It is not clear who is running Turner's Institute. The office on South Broadway is often closed. A secretary said Marzet is still working for the organization as a volunteer.