School board inches closer to Service Center relocation

At their last meeting, members of the Claremont Unified School District Board of Education gave direction to the architects at Flewelling & Moody to draw up plans for placement of a new Service Center on the grounds of the CUSD District Office at 170 W. San Jose Ave. in Claremont.

At the Thursday, June 20 school board meeting, James Moreto, principal/architect of Flewelling & Moody, presented the board with a few options for placement and configuration of the district’s center of operations.

The firm had previously made preliminary drawings and calculations for placement of the Service Center at San Antonio High School as well as at the District Office. At their June 6 meeting, the board—heeding their own misgivings about impinging on open space at the local continuation school as well as community outcry about bringing an industrial facility to a neighborhood marked by single-family dwellings—directed Mr. Moreto to focus his efforts on the District Office property. 

Of Mr. Moreto’s District  Office drawings, the board agreed on Thursday that the best of these was a plan to place the Service Center on the southwest corner of the District Office property, adjacent to the freeway. Even with a fenced-off parking area allowing for 20 district vehicles making the Service Center property into a good sized “L,” the placement allows for a largely unimpeded flow of regular district office traffic, according to board members. 

The estimated construction cost for the southwest corner option is $1,405,410 plus a soft cost of $252,974 for unexpected contingencies, making for a total project cost of $1,658,384, according to Mr. Moreto. The amount includes the importing and installing of a significant amount of soil to compensate for a slope of some 5 feet that is present in the area that will serve as a footprint for the new building. It also includes $30,000 for a 10-foot sound wall to cushion district employees who are working outside from potential freeway noise; general noise insulation to keep the inside of the new Service Center quiet has been built into the buildings.

Whether the sound wall will be included is still up for consideration, with board member Jeff Stark suggesting it is likely unnecessary since most work occurs outside. Sam Mowbray, who first suggested the wall out of consideration for district employees, has requested that Rick Cota, Service Center Director, and his Service Center team provide the board with some data how much of their work occurs outdoors.

A conservative estimate of how long the project will take is 45 weeks, but 42 weeks is a more likely number. At an auction held at the end of May, homebuilder D.R. Horton purchased the old Service Center property, located at 700 Base Line Road. The homebuilder is looking about a year on top of a standard 60-day post-auction period before the Service Center Property closes escrow.

Mr. Mowbray asked if that meant the board should finalize plans for a new Service Center soon, perhaps as soon as August 1, Lisa Shoemaker, assistant superintendent of business services, concurred.

“If we put it off too long, we’ll be pushing up against that deadline,” she said.

Earlier in the meeting, Mr. Mowbray asked whether another property recently declared surplus, the site of the long-defunct La Puerta Intermediate School at 2475 N. Forbes Ave. in Claremont—which is still used for a few community classes and functions—might be another good option for Service Center placement. He wondered, in particular, how much it might cost to modify a portion of the already existing main building for district needs.

Ms. Shoemaker asserted that it would be cost-prohibitive, given that considerable mitigation measures would be needed in order to make it safe for inhabitation. Even chipping off the existing paint, which contains lead, would be cause for expensive studies and remediation.

The 4.35-acre site of the old District Office at Baseline Road and Mountain Avenue fetched $6.2 million in February of 2012 and the 3.4-acre Service Center property sold for $7 million, with both properties going to highest bidder D.R. Horton. With prices like that in mind, board member Jeff Stark had another concern about relocating the facility there.

“That property is too valuable to use as a Service Center,” he said.

—Sarah Torribio


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