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Communication Studies


Land expansion on hold for West Sacramento school

by Leticia Valenzuela
Capital Campus News
Nov. 10, 2004

The West Sacramento School Board closed escrow on 54 acres of a new high school site on Oct. 14, and although building plans are moving forward, the district is still having trouble purchasing the remainder of land.

Located at the corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Linden Road in Southport, the 91 acres parcel has been set to hold a new 2,400-student high school since the development of Southport in 1991.

“This site has been a proposed high school site since the Southport Frame Work Plan,” said former school board president Irene Eklund. “No matter what, the high school will go there.”

According to Eklund, the school will replace the now overcrowded and out-dated River City High, which was built in 1955 to hold 800 students but now houses over 1,600.

The Washington Unified School District purchased the 54 acres from a local Iwasaki family for $200,000 an acre.

“That price was agreed upon and locked-in since March of 2003,” said Eklund.

In March the district passed a school bond that allocated $52 million in city funds to build a new high school.

Since then the district has been in negotiations to purchase the land, but had to wait until the site’s environmental impact reports were completed and accepted to move forward.

According to Eklund, residential developer Forecast Homes had shown interest in the property but backed out once hearing the district had first rights to the land.

“As the school board we have the government right of eminent domain,” said Eklund. “This means we have the right to obtain land to build schools, but we’re obligated to pay market rate.”

Paying market rate is what has caused problems with the remaining 38 acres of site property, according to landowner Marina Frugoli.

“The school board offered us $133,000 per acre,” said Frugoli. “We knew they paid $200,000 an acre for the Iwasaki land, and didn’t understand. Why not us?”

The Frugoli family has owned and lived on the 38 acres parcel for over 13 years.

The family found out the district was interested in purchasing their land for a high school in 2001, and at the time, expressed no interest in selling.

“We met with the school board in December of 2001,” said Frugoli. “We told them we didn’t wish to sell and recommended they find some other site.”

As life-long residents of West Sacramento, the Frugoli family agrees that the city needs a new high school, but they also said they deserve the appraised value for their land.

“As we kept up our reluctance to sell, we were threatened with condemnation and eminent domain,” said Frugoli. “Once the board threatened to take our house, we immediately started talking to lawyers.”

Lawyers informed them that in the long run they would lose their property to the district but that they did have the right to get the appraised value of the parcel since the district was forcing them out.

According to Washington Unified School District Superintendent, Pat Campell, the school board’s explanation for offering a different price to the two families is that the Frugoli’s parcel is zoned for a lower density than that of the Iwasaki property.

But Frugoli said once it was final that the high school was going to go on the Iwasaki land, all the land around that property should have been able to re-zone as high-medium density.

The Frugoli family applied to the city to have their land re-zoned, but was denied.

Because the school board and the Frugoli’s were unable to reach an agreement, the Frugoli’s now have a purchasing agreement in the works with an independent developer instead of the school district.

“We are in a contract with American Properties that should be final this week,” said Frugoli. “They will be purchasing the land for over $200,000 an acre.”

Although American Properties will face the same threat of eminent domain as the Frugoli’s, the family said it will be better resolved between two knowledgeable parties.

“The developers feel they are on good terms with the school board,” said Frugoli. “It should all work out.”

Irene Eklund said the board and the developer are on good terms and is confident the situation will end respectably.

“We are still on-track to close River City in June of 2007 and re-open the new school in August of 2007,” Eklund said. “Even if it’s just on the land we already own.”