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Ft. Mac demolition

 
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JoeJanesic



Joined: 29 Aug 2007
Posts: 44
Location: San Pedro, CA

PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 2:16 pm    Post subject: Ft. Mac demolition Reply with quote

http://www.dailybreeze.com/news/ci_12406713


To preservation advocate Joe Janesic, seeing bulldozers tear apart aged military buildings at a former Army installation in San Pedro is like watching someone hurt his own children. Last week, demolition began on the site of the former Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur, where the Los Angeles Unified School District has planned a controversial new secondary campus. It's been heart-wrenching for Janesic, who helps run the Fort MacArthur Museum at the nearby Osgood-Farley Battery, to see World War II-era structures reduced to piles of boards. "It makes me sicker than anything you can imagine," said Janesic.

"It's like watching one of your kids get their arms ripped off. Can't sleep at night, can't think straight." Now he's particularly angry - and he's hired an attorney - because the school district has reneged on its pledge to preserve some of the buildings. Three buildings that were set for preservation will be razed, and Janesic's hope that an additional two could be moved to the museum site has been dashed. "I expected especially after the Ambassador Hotel project, that the district would step up to the plate and try to redeem itself and do the right thing," said Janesic, referring to the district's demolition of the Los Angeles hotel where Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. "I should have known better."

LAUSD's plan to build an 810-student campus to relieve overcrowding at nearby San Pedro High has been the subject of much criticism locally. Concern about the fate of historic but derelict Army buildings was only one part of the fiery debate that led to the $103 million project's approval by the Coastal Commission in January. In its state-required environmental report on the proposed campus, the school district said it planned to address the loss of "cultural resources" at the former Army base by creating a historic district of former military buildings on the southeast portion of the 29-acre site. Eight buildings were set to be moved out of the way of the planned school and set onto new foundations, joining 10 existing military structures - a preservation effort that LAUSD officials said will cost $3.5 million.

But the school district recently realized it didn't have room for all the buildings it had said it would move, thanks to inaccurate initial measurements. So three of the buildings of lesser significance historically won't make the cut and will be demolished. "We could not physically have put those buildings next to each other. We had to adapt the plan to reflect that," said Roderick Hamilton, LAUSD's regional development manager. "The thing that seemed the most reasonable to do in light of all the interest in the buildings was to physically preserve those that had the most significance." Hamilton added that the three eliminated buildings were planned as "fill" for the historic district.

"We were filling in the street. We were going overboard," Hamilton said. "We're trying to make a nice project here; we're not doing this just to follow the letter of the law." Additionally, the district's pledge to move two buildings to the museum site, which is on Los Angeles municipal property, has proved too costly because the city would require accessibility upgrades and the installation of a restroom, Hamilton said. One of those buildings, the windowless structure where the Army repaired its first radar units, will instead be moved onto a separate portion of the school district's property outside the historic district. That's been devastating to the Fort MacArthur Museum, where officials hoped to restore the radar building.

Now the museum's attorney is reviewing the changes to the district environmental report to see if the LAUSD plan passes legal muster, Janesic said.

"We are confident we are following the letter and the spirit of the law," Hamilton said.
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