Yuba River Charter School to build on lead contaminated EPA cleanup site | TheUnion.com

Yuba River Charter School to build on lead contaminated EPA cleanup site

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The Nevada County Planning Commission approved Yuba River Charter School’s plans to construct a new 23,000-square-foot, $8.5 million school on a 16-acre site near the intersection of Rough and Ready Highway and Adam Avenue in Grass Valley.

In late May, commissioners voted 3 to 1 (with R. Douglas Donesky dissenting and Ruth Poulter absent) to approve a proposal that calls for six separate buildings, several K-8 classrooms, a library, a main lobby, about 800 square feet of administrative space, an art studio, an amphitheater, general parking and several play fields for different grade levels.

Many residents who live in proximity to the proposed construction site attended the meeting and called into question the potential traffic impacts, stormwater run-off and infrastructure problems. Planning commissioners all expressed concern that the settling pond, designed to capture water that flows off of impervious surfaces such as parking lots, is inadequate.

Project proponents said the settling pond will be altered to accommodate greater capacity — approximately a half-acre.

“This long-term dump site will finally get cleaned up.”
— Caleb Buckley,Yuba River Charter School director

Residents living on Adam Avenue, which is downhill from the proposed site, said if the septic system fails, the many houses will be inundated with wastewater.

Almost all of the attendees of the public hearing said the new school would add traffic and render the intersection of Adam Avenue and Rough and Ready Highway dangerous.

The site is comprised of three different parcels with varying zoning, all of which allow for schools as one of the uses.

However, the commission voted to consolidate the zoning, and the board of supervisors will have to approve the rezone at an upcoming meeting.

The northernmost 3-acre portion of the site was once part of the Kenny Ranch project and housed Grass Valley’s burn dump in the mid-1950s.

The site currently features contaminated soil with a high concentration of lead. Cleanup of the hazardous materials is included in the proposal for development of the site, said Tod Herman, Nevada County senior planner. Remediation activities are slated to include removing contaminated soil, hauling it to an approved disposal site and capping the disturbed area, all of which will be monitored by the Department of Toxic Substances.

Yuba Charter was recently awarded $600,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency as part of $62.5 million in funds awarded to assess and clean up abandoned industrial and commercial properties nationwide.

“It’s crucial for making sure we can clean up the site,” said Caleb Buckley, director of Yuba River Charter. “This long-term dump site will finally get cleaned up.”

Yuba River Charter currently occupies the former Nevada City Elementary building and has an annual lease agreement with the Nevada City School District. Yuba River expects to move into the new location June 2015 and plans to extend its three-year lease with the Nevada City School District, which is set to expire June 2014.

“Right now, we’re confined to a city block with black top,” Buckley said. “With the new location, we’ll be able to have a playground, outdoor spaces, a lot more parking, solar power and all new buildings, so it will be much more efficient to run.”

The school year for Yuba Charter includes two semesters with the first beginning in mid-August and ending in mid-December and the second spanning January to late May or early June. The school provides public education to about 300 students, using a 30-person staff, including 10 teachers, a principal, an administrative manager, librarian, custodian and other assorted support staff.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or 530-477-4239.

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