FAIRFIELD — A deal that could lead to three former Fairfield-Suisun School District schools redeveloped by private enterprise could finally be headed to a conclusion.
The agreement between Rockville Road LP and the Fairfield-Suisun School District got announced in February 2012. Rockville Road LLP would swap 52 acres of vacant land along Rockville Road in rural Suisun Valley for the three abandoned school sites.
Rockville Road LP would be getting three ghost schools. The buildings remain at the sites, but children no longer crowd into the classrooms.
Those ghost schools are the Mary Bird and former Sem Yeto continuation school sites in central Fairfield and the Falls Elementary School site in rural Green Valley.
Fairfield-Suisun is waiting for Rockville Road LP to finish its due diligence involving remediation on the vacant 52-acre site that the district would get in return, said Kim Van Gundy, facilities manager for the school district. She believes the agreement should be completed by February 2014.
Solano County officials a few months ago said arsenic was in the soils on the 52-acre site in levels low enough to allow homes, but too high for a school. Van Gundy said arsenic can be present on former orchard land that once got sprayed and is common in agricultural areas.
If the deal gets finalized, Rockville Road LP would be able to redevelop the old school sites. The Secretary of State’s office lists Ramesh Karipineni of Fremont as the contact for the partnership. Karipineni did not return a phone call this week.
The former Sem Yeto site is a 2.2-acre property located at 421 Madison St. near downtown Fairfield. Sem Yeto Continuation High School in 2010 moved from this location to the former Dover Middle School.
The Mary Bird site is located on 2.6 acres at 420 E. Tabor Ave. Fairfield-Suisun School District for years ran Mary Bird Continuation High School there, but closed the school in 2010.
Both sites are zoned for public facilities, such as schools or government functions, Fairfield Community Development Director Erin Beavers said. But the city can change this.
“The logical uses would be residential at those locations,” Beavers said. “But we haven’t given it any real thought in terms of density.”
Rockville Road LP has yet to approach the city, he said.
Falls Elementary School closed in 1998, when the district opened Nelda Mundy Elementary School in Fairfield. It is located at 1634 Rockville Road near the Green Valley Country Club and is on a septic system. It is in the unincorporated county.
Solano County Planning Program Manager Mike Yankovich said the owners-to-be met with the county a few weeks ago. No actual project has yet been proposed, he said.
“I think it’s probably going to be residential, heading in that direction,” Yankovich said.
Two types of zoning are near the property. To the east, the zoning is for a home per one-third acre. To the west, it’s a home per 2.5 acres. Challenges are drainage, septic systems and water supply, he said.
Or the property could be used for a community building or private school, Yankovich said. The gymnasium could stay, he said, but the school buildings are probably not part of the future plans for the site.
The school district has leased part of Falls Elementary School to the Cordelia Fire Protection District for a second station. Van Gundy said the intention is that this agreement would continue after the property swap.
Fire Chief Jay Huyssoon said it’s been pretty much agreed that everyone wants the district to stay, but that nothing is finalized.
The main Cordelia Fire Protection District station is in Cordelia. The Green Valley station helps the district protect another part of the area where it fights fires. Huyssoon said response times and fire insurance costs would go up if the district lost the Green Valley station.
Then there’s the 52 acres of vacant land that is to go to the school district.
The school district has no immediate use for land, Van Gundy said. This is “long-term” thinking, she said, adding the district could someday build a high school there or some other use.
She noted that Solano Community College is adjacent to the property. It’s very natural that whatever the district puts there has some involvement with the college, she said.
In the meantime, maintaining the vacant 52 acres is a lot less expensive than maintaining three sites with old school buildings, she said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.