Green Light for Gym Buildings


A plan to build gymnasium/auditoriums at four campuses in the Ocean View School District will proceed, after trustees assured residents on Tuesday that the project will have no significant ill effects on neighborhoods. But many people weren't buying it. .

One by one, residents took the podium to speak against the district's environmental study, which one speaker called "grossly inadequate for California Environmental Quality Act documents."

Concerns ranged from parking problems to the glare of headlights on nearby houses during evening events.

Larry Richey, who lives near Marine View Middle School, said his son was caught in bumper-to- bumper traffic for 20 minutes when only 250 students showed up for a school dance.

"With this new facility, you'll be able to seat 750 students. I'd need a bulldozer to get out of my driveway," he said.

The district's $12-million plan calls for 18,000 square-foot gymnasium/auditoriums at Marine View, Mesa View, Spring View middle schools in Huntington Beach and at Vista View middle school in Fountain Valley.

Over residents' protests, the board voted 4-1 to proceed, with Barbara Boskovich casting the no vote after saying some issues she thought were important had been omitted from the study.

Last September, the trustees unanimously approved construction of the facilities to provide a place for sports activities as well as a location for large student gatherings. Students now meet in small multipurpose rooms at staggered times for band concerts and other events.

At the October board meeting, residents complained that they were unaware of the plan. Although generally in favor of the gyms, residents expressed concern that the facilities--at 36 feet, taller than a two-story home--would ruin the appearance of their neighborhoods. They also worried traffic and parking problems would worsen if the district followed through on its plan to rent the facilities for nonschool events on weekends and evenings to help pay for construction costs.

The trustees responded by creating community advisory committees at each site. A month later, they put the project on hold until an environmental report was completed and residents had a chance to make suggestions.

Responding to community concerns, trusteed scaled back the plans and reduced the height of the buildings. But the biggest change, board President Carol Kanode said before Tuesday's meeting, was eliminating the proposal to rent the facilities.

"That's what created all this mess," she said. "If you don't have rentals, then I don't see where you have a problem with parking. It wouldn't be any different than the parking we currently have."

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