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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

City blinks in stand off with school district over Echo Park street closure

It looks like the Los Angeles Unified School District will get its way and take over a block-long stretch of Marathon Street west of Alvarado to build a new elementary school. Signs posted near the site say the street will be closed permanently to traffic beginning June 5. School district board member Yolie Flores Aguilar and Councilman Eric Garcetti had been at odds over the street closure, with Garcetti seeking a smaller school and a better design campus before agreeing to give up the street.

"Although he never felt this was the best location for a school, Council President Garcetti believes that through working with the school district and the community, the plans for this school have changed from being something out of scale with the neighborhood and with its back to the street into a model school, making the best out of a site that is not ideal for a school," read a statement issued by the council office. (read the complete statement).

Shutting down Marathon Street removes the last major hurdle to build the new elementary school after years of delays and legal battles with residents and property owners, who were forced to sell under the threat of eminent domain. Opponents of Site 9A said that building the new school did not make sense in light of a steep and steady drop in enrollment, allowing most nearby schools have to return to traditional semester schedules. In fact, a charter school will lease empty classrooms at nearby Logan Street Elementary School and Belmont High School will add middle school grades to take advantage of unused space.

* This post had been updated with Garcetti's statement.

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