Former school site slated for residential development

IRVINE — In one swoop that both generates more than $12 million for the school district and worry among some residents, the City Council cleared the way this week for 48 homes to replace a former elementary school.

The resolution to change the zoning designation of the former Alderwood Basics Elementary School site from institutional to residential was approved unanimously by the City Council after a two-hour staff presentation and public hearing.

"We believe that the project is very compatible with the surrounding community, and it represents a type of housing that the community told us that they would like to see built on the site," said Ken Coulter, spokesman for William Lyon Homes, the developer of the project.

While the development adjacent to Woodbridge Village will provide more than $12 million to the Irvine Unified School District, many of the village's residents turned out to the meeting to voice concerns over traffic, parking and proposed changes to neighboring Fallbrook Park.

Once built, the homes will be annexed into the Woodbridge Village Assn., according to a staff presentation.

"I can appreciate the schools' need for the funds, but the truth of the matter is that you cannot put that many homes there," resident Erin Regnier told the council on Tuesday night.

Regnier cited concerns over the proposed entrance to the development on Fallbrook, a narrow street already plagued by speeding motorists.

"It just cannot be sustained," she concluded.

The proposed 6.2-acre development would also diminish the amount of open green space adjacent to Fallbrook Park, which formerly served as the sports field for the elementary school.

Many of the attending residents asked developers to maintain the open space, while other public comments were directed at the Woodbridge Village Assn. to forego plans for lighted volleyball courts and a water "splash pad" at Fallbrook Park.

"The new homes will be new homes in a seasoned community, and the people living there now should not feel like they are guests in a community that was developed for 48 new families," Mayor Pro Tem Beth Krom said. "A community doesn't want to hear that they are whining about nothing — this is not nothing. These are your partners, they can be your friends or they can be your worst nightmare."

As part of the school district's facilities master plan project, which involves identifying school sites that can be sold to generate funds for the district, the former elementary school on Alderwood and East Yale Loop was identified as an older facility with low enrollment and closed in 2005.

The site was sold to William Lyon Homes LLC in 2008.

Funds from the sale will be used to "upgrade and modernize sites to align with needs of 21st century schools," according to a presentation led by IUSD Supt. Terry Walker.

Sites slated for future improvement projects include Woodbridge and Irvine high schools and Brywood, Meadow Park, Westpark and Springbrook elementary schools.

"This money will go to good use," Walker said.


Fallen soldier honored

In other council business, Alton Athletic Park, across from Woodbridge High School, was renamed in honor of fallen U.S. Army Lt. Mark Daily.

Daily, 23, was a lifetime Irvine resident and graduate of Woodbridge.

He was killed in 2007 when his Humvee was hit by explosive device in Mosul, Iraq, said Krom, who had brought the request before the council.

"It is my hope today and in the future that people will be inspired by his story," Krom said. "He really was a hometown hero."

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