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Sports complex faces rough road: Brown Property may be tainted

Jason D. Cox
Staff Writer

Low levels of contamination found at the University of La Verne’s Campus West are believed to be remnants left by previous occupants of the property, according to a University report.

While the exact results of the analysis report were not disclosed, the contaminant found in the northeastern portion of the property apparently does not present an immediate danger.

“It’s not a very big plume, but legally it must be remediated,” professor of biology and biochemistry Jay Jones said.

“When the Browns (the property’s previous owners) had the soil tested on our behalf, the Environmental Protection Agency judged the contaminant as not serious enough for us to not take it over,” Professor of Biology Robert Neher said.

“It’s at a level that is more bothersome than anything else.”

The current evidence indicates that the legal responsibility for the clean-up lies with Occidental Petroleum Corporation, which occupied the area for many years before ULV acquired it.

However, the ULV administration is still trying to get Occidental to clean up its mess.

“The property’s previous owner Mike Brown got a no further action letter from the government to prove the contamination was not our fault,” Executive Vice President Phil Hawkey said.

Hawkey explained that the California Regional Water Quality Control Board holds jurisdiction over this issue.

It is through that board’s efforts that ULV administration hopes to resolve this conflict with Occidental and have the oil company arrange for the removal of the contaminants.

Campus West, also known as the Brown Property, was acquired by ULV through a generous deal made with Mike Brown that started back in 1999.

The deal was closed in 2007 and since then, little has been done to develop the land.

Before Brown acquired it, Occidental occupied the property.

This space for expansion is especially welcome today, as it has become increasingly apparent how strapped ULV is for space.

It was also made clear that the evidence thus far gave no indication that Brown’s company was in any way at fault for the contamination, which has been present in that particular area of the property for decades.

At one point, the University had plans to sell the property to private firm that would develop the land into a business park, but the economy took a turn that adversely affected the real estate market and this plan was abandoned.

Since then, it has been decided by the University’s senior administration that the property should be developed as planned several years ago.

This plan would call for the construction of athletics facilities on Campus West including tennis courts, a baseball field, a softball field, a football field and a soccer field.

These facilities are expected to be erected and ready for use no later than 2013.

Construction will not be slowed by this issue of contamination, administrators said.

However, if Occidental’s resistance against the State Water Quality Control Board were to affect construction, a potential solution mentioned by Hawkey would be to put down a vapor shield that would cover the area.

The finalization of the new athletics facilities will undoubtedly come as a kind of relief to the student athletes who will, at that time, have endured nearly two years of playing at high schools and assorted city-run athletic facilities.

While the current construction and destruction around campus has met resistance from some of the student body, new facilities that are adequate and specifically dedicated to athletics could potentially provide ULV’s student athletes with some satisfaction.

Jason D. Cox can be reached at jason.cox@laverne.edu.

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