CdM High School Sports Field Draft EIR Analyzed

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Rendering of CdM sports field

In an effort to clarify details of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for improvements to the Corona del Mar High School Sports Field, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education will go over each section of the report in their recorded bi-monthly meetings.

The District is proposing to provide various sports field improvements near the northeast comer of the existing CdM Middle School and High School campus. The improvements include replacing and reconfiguring the existing sports field with new synthetic-turf sports field, constructing a 1,000-seat capacity bleacher and a press-box, public address system, a restroom/ticket/concession/storage building, and a lighting system.

An initial design was approved by the board in October 2015.

The District is in the process of evaluating the impacts of the project as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The DEIR has been circulated and comments will be received through March 22.

The effort to bring attention to each section of the DEIR began during the Feb. 14 meeting, when Ara Zareczny, Director of Facilities Development for the district addressed Section 1, the Executive Summary, and Section 2, the Introduction.

The Executive Summary in Section 1 notes the project’s objectives and impacts. Impacts, Zareczny remarked, occur “not only when it’s in operation,” referring to new features of the sports field, “but also during construction.”

Though the total area is 37 acres, only six of those are impacted by the future work.

She noted that some elements of the original plan were abandoned because they did not meet the main objective to keep all athletic practices and activities on the main campus.

Others, such as a proposed new parking garage, were not adopted because it was decided that it wasn’t needed after all. If additional parking is needed, Zareczny stated, off-site parking is available at Eastbluff Elementary School, with a district-provided shuttle to bring spectators to the event. She also noted that they save $7 million by not going with a new parking structure.

Section 2, the Introduction of the DEIR, is a deeper dive into the scope of the work at hand. It also states that the board is responsible for Mitigation Monitoring, which Zaraczny described as a “contract with the community,” to ensure that construction and use of sports field facilities makes the least adverse impact possible to the surrounding neighborhood.

Monitoring may include filing reports to local agencies or providing proof of mitigation, such as records that show police were brought in to manage traffic during an event.

Sections 3 through 13 will be discussed at future meetings. Zareczny said that certain sections may be of more interest than others, including Section 5, which includes the very technical environmental analysis of the project, Section 6, which will list Significant Unavoidable Adverse Impacts, and Section 7, which will illustrate alternative project modifications.

An agenda for the next school board meeting on Feb. 28 is not yet available, but trustees did suggest putting the DEIR explanation period into a study session prior to the actual board meeting. Trustees said that they have so many questions, they felt the DEIR might need its own discussion time. If done separately, the study session would also be recorded and posted online.

 In an effort to inform the neighbors surrounding the school community of the planned project and next steps, a community information meeting hosted by Newport-Mesa Unified School District staff will be held on March 8 from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Lecture Hall at Corona del Mar High School, 2101 Eastbluff Drive.

A general overview of the DEIR will be provided. The public may ask questions during this meeting. Written comments can be sent to [email protected] prior to the March 22 deadline.

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