By The Signal Editorial Board
Well, that was a bit of a scare. Word went out last weekend that Castaic High School, just weeks away from opening, still didn’t have vital utility connections, including natural gas lines.
Insiders were saying it was entirely possible that the long-awaited school, the seventh major high school in the Santa Clarita Valley and the first devoted exclusively to residents of Castaic and Val Verde, might not open as scheduled on Aug. 13.
“It’s not like you can flip a switch and all of a sudden there’s gas and electricity,” Randy Wrage, project manager for the high school’s construction, said on June 15. “It will not open without gas. We need the gas soon.”
It seemed the Southern California Gas Co. had yet to secure needed permits from Los Angeles County, and regardless of who was to blame, the delay threatened the scheduled debut of the 200-acre, $126.2-million project.
Imagine: A school that cost over a hundred million dollars, the result of a decade and a half of planning, otherwise ready to open but sitting vacant because it wasn’t yet properly outfitted with hot water and heat. Presumably, that would be something of a political dumpster fire for the William S. Hart Union High School District.
Thankfully, once the news broke, all of the various parties got together and expedited the process.
The office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose district includes the SCV, stepped up to the plate with expedited processing of permits the Gas Company needed.
The Gas Company, in turn, responded promptly when the county requested additional insurance documentation, and next thing you know, the permits are in place and within a few days the digging began for the trenches where the gas lines will be placed.
Now, says Wrage, the meter will be installed and the infrastructure needed for the gas service will be completed by July 12.
Crisis averted, thanks to a renewed sense of urgency and teamwork — and when Castaic High School opens as scheduled on Aug. 13, there will be no shortage of people to thank.