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Contaminated soil delaying district move

Irma Lemus

BURBANK -- Contaminated soil in the parking lot of Burbank Unified

School District’s new headquarters is delaying the relocation of some

departments that were scheduled to move into the Olive Avenue building


last weekend, school officials said.

The delay is likely to last at least five months while the

contaminated soil is being cleaned, said Ali Kiafar, assistant

superintendent for planning, development and facilities.


The district relocated about half of its offices into the new

building at 1900 W. Olive Ave. from the old Buena Vista Street site a

week ago, said Kiafar. Non-instructional departments such as facilities,

personnel and business have made the move but most of the instructional

offices will not be relocated until the parking area is given a clean

bill of health by the city’s Fire Department.

A separate parking area was not affected by the contamination,

allowing some of the district administrators to work at the new building


now, officials said.

Kiafar said that as a stipulation on the closing of the escrow of the

parking lot, the current owner of the land will have to submit a plan to

Burbank’s Fire Department to install a vapor extraction system to clean

up the land.

“We won’t close the escrow until the fire department approves the

plan,” said Kiafar. The land, which the district has agreed to purchase

for $550,000 from businessman Sarkis Adzehemyan, was previously used for


a gas station, he said.

“This is not like the problem our neighboring school district has,”

Burbank school board member Mike McDonald said at Thursday’s board

meeting, referring to contamination that has halted construction at

Belmont High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

“No offices will be built on that land,” said McDonald.

The $4.5-million relocation of Burbank Unified School District has

been in the planning stages for a year, Kiafar said. The district intends

to stay in the Olive Avenue building for about 10 years, until it is able

to build a new headquarters on property it purchased on Glenoaks

Boulevard adjacent to the Police and Fire headquarters.

Kiafar said potential noise from the vapor extraction system has

caused concern among nearby property owners. The district is working with

those neighbors to come up with a plan to clean the soil with as little

disruption as possible, he said.

School Board member Elena Hubbell said the relocation delay was


“Any time a gas station closes these are the type of things that need

to be done,” Hubbell said.