The critical alignment of a new road that would serve the Dozier-Libbey magnet high school near the new Kaiser hospital on Deer Valley Road is in a legal morass that could delay its planned opening in September of 2008.
A frustrated City Council, which listened to the details of the dispute Tuesday night, is determined to take action to get temporary access to the site so the school can meet its opening date.
"If this isn't resolved by our December 19 meeting, we'll be taking action that won't please anybody," said Mayor Don Freitas.
City officials are angry at the failure of Kaiser Permanente and Pulte Homes representatives to reach agreement on the future alignment of Sand Creek Road, which must be decided before the school can go ahead.
Kaiser favors a northern alignment that would border their property. Pulte - and the Antioch Unified School District - favor a southern alignment that would not cut through the medical high school campus and would better suit Pulte's plans.
To further complicate matters, the property for the southern alignment is owned by another property owner, Royal Formosa, a company that city officials and others have had difficulty even contacting.
Victor Carniglia, Antioch's Deputy Director of Community Development, presented a report to the council that noted the road dispute as well as the imminent need for at least temporary construction of an access road to put in utilities such as sewer, storm drains, water, gas and electricity.
Another complicating factor is that the school district had expected $1.1 million to be placed in an escrow account, which it could use for the temporary road access or a portion of the construction of Sand Creek Road that would border the school campus. The money is not in the account, however; and Tim Forrester, the district's Director of Facilities, is investigating how this happened.
"That's a gross oversight" on the part of the school district, said Council Member Arne Simonsen, adding, "We should decide where the damn road should go."
A similar view was expressed by Councilmen Jim Conley and Brian Kalinowski, and there was talk of eminent domain. City Attorney Lynn Tracy Nerland was dubious about that possibility. However, it was clear that the school district has eminent domain authority. Carniglia said he couldn't speak for the district, but that's always messy.
After much discussion and many motions, amendments and clarifications, the council voted unanimously to instruct the staff to come back with a proposal on Dec. 19 that would concentrate on getting temporary road access and other infrastructure to the site.
A resolution to rescind the city's year-old agreement with Pulte and Kaiser will also be prepared in the event an agreement can't be reached with the two property owners.
Freitas, who will participate in the discussions with the property owners, warned that any action to dictate where Sand Creek Road would go could involve legal action. A closed session for the city attorney to brief the council on this possibility is scheduled on Dec. 19, before the open meeting.
"The city needs to play hardball with a developer," said resident Terry Ramus, adding that while he is not privy to the complicated discussions that have taken place, his hunch is that the medical school is being used as a bargaining chip. "It's at a point where the city has to make this happen."
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