Colton School District Swaps Elementary School Land In $45M Deal With Warehouse Developer – San Bernardino Sun
Colton Unified School District leaders have agreed to swap land that houses a 69-year-old Bloomington elementary school for nearby property in a $45 million deal that will cover the cost of construction of a new elementary school in the unincorporated town of San Bernardino County.
The district will operate Zimmerman Elementary School under a lease agreement with an Orange County developer until the new school is built.
Built in 1953 and last modernized eight years ago, Zimmerman enrolls approximately 560 students. The Linden Avenue school could eventually be bordered by 2.7 million square feet of warehouse space, as proposed in Bloomington’s controversial specific business park plan.
Howard Industrial Partners, the developer behind this plan, agreed to exchange land on Hermosa Avenue for the Zimmerman property.
“For years now,” Superintendent Frank Miranda said at the start of the June 30 board meeting, “Bloomington has been undergoing dramatic change with the growth of the logistics industry in the region and the growing number large developments that create noise, traffic and air pollution.
“Our challenge as a district,” continued Miranda, “is how to protect our students and staff from the worst impacts wherever possible and also provide them with school facilities consistent with our vision to continue to grow and thrive. improve over time. an organization and give our students the best benefits for a successful future.
Attorney Terry Tao, with whom the district is working on such deals, likened Zimmerman’s land swap and ultimate relocation to a family moving away from problematic neighbors.
“You can start yelling at each other,” he said, “or you can move on. You can walk away from the problem, and the district has the opportunity to do just that.
The new school is planned on 28 acres on Santa Ana and Larch Avenues, a stone’s throw from the Zimmerman campus.
The proposed site is across Cedar Avenue from a warehouse.
Ana Carlos, a South Bloomington resident with three children in the Colton School District, objected to the board’s unanimous decision to “sell one of our elementary schools.”
“Is Bloomington High School in danger of being closed?” she wrote in an email. “Is Ruth O. Harris Middle School in danger of being closed? What about air quality for students and teachers staying in the area?
“Another elementary school would be a quarter mile away,” she added, “will they eventually combine the two, closing Crestmore Elementary?”
Additionally, Carlos added, the new school site “would be built next to a truck stop/gas station,” and given that Zimmerman is a school where parents take their children to campus, parents ” would now have to cross Cedar Avenue, a dangerous street, with heavy truck traffic going in and out because of the truck stop gas station.”
Carlos argued that the school board “seeks the benefit of the developer of Bloomington Business Park and not our students,” and called on administrators to reverse the trend.
“I want a board that works for students and their community,” she concluded, “and not developer money.”
District leaders, meanwhile, have touted the $45 million deal as a win for all parties.
“It’s not an easy decision, but it takes courage, and I think we’re doing the right thing,” board member Dan Flores said June 30. “We’re protecting our children, our students, which is our primary responsibility, and that’s going to kickstart a renaissance here in Bloomington, with not just one school, but it could change two, three, four schools in the district of positive way.
The school district’s land swap with Howard Industrial comes on the heels of Fontana and state Attorney General Rob Bonta settling a lawsuit over a 206,000-square-foot warehouse bound for adjacent property. at Jurupa Hills High School.
Announced in April, the pact required Fontana to adopt stricter requirements for warehouse projects and the developer to implement substantial mitigation measures during and after construction. In addition, the developer must contribute $210,000 to a community benefit fund.
Colton Joint Unified’s deal, Flores said, surpasses neighboring Fontana’s and is the result of extensive negotiations instead of litigation.
“It wasn’t easy to come to this conclusion,” Tao said, “but everyone agrees that it’s a much better outcome than pleading about it, and it made all the difference. I salute the board and consultants who laid the groundwork for this by doing the groundwork, the analysis, and not just shouting and shouting that it will be bad, but presenting an analysis showing the impacts, the increase pollution, noise and traffic.
“Everyone worked in good faith,” Tao continued, “and finally got this deal done.”