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Dirt moved from high school track Allison K. Sampité | Sat, Aug 25 2012 12:00 PM

An estimated 13,000 tons of dirt that was dumped next to Southwest High’s football field more than one year ago was finally removed this week.

Sweetwater Union High School District officials held a news conference last Friday to update the public on the issue.
Answers focused on how the dirt arrived in the first place, who authorized its deposit, how much it’s costing the district to remove and whether or not it was a threat to public health.

District chief facilities and operations executive Tom Calhoun said the dirt was free, donated by several people as a gift to the district to create a crescent berm, such as the one at Southwestern College’s football stadium. It was to include the school’s mascot name Raiders with raised letters and grass.

The dirt was brought in sometime last spring from a construction site at 43rd Street and Logan Avenue in southeast San Diego with direction from former district superintendent Jesus Gandara, Southwest athletic director Mike Esposito and principal and coach Dr. Maria Armstrong, district officials said.

Calhoun said while it was a great idea, it was poorly executed.

“The school may not have known what was being done,” Calhoun admitted. “The (former) principal signed a paper allowing them to drop the dirt.”

Calhoun said a policy was in place at the time that required a specific form to be filled out.

“That was not done,” he said.

Calhoun said going forward, he and Superintendent Dr. Ed Brand would reiterate the policy to school principals and administrators.

He also said the district is working with risk management to put together a claims package to recoup lost monies, which he said would ultimately go back into the general fund and the schools.

In addition, the board was not required to vote on the issue since it was of no cost to the district.

But it is now.

The price tag is upward of $500,000 for site testing, dirt removal, transporting costs and repairs to the irrigation system.

“Testing was over and above $500,000 to ensure the safety of staff, students and neighbors,” Calhoun said.

The soil was transported to Azusa landfill in Los Angeles County, which Calhoun said was the least expensive option to any alternative landfill.

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anniej Says:

Sat, Aug 25 2012 05:55 PM

let us pay attention to the obvious - please note the name of trucking company used to haul the dirt ALL OF THE WAY TO AZUZA, CA.

ADVANCED CHEMICAL TRANSPORT - well by golly, it appears someone believes the dirt is toxic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

anniej Says:

Sat, Aug 25 2012 05:53 PM

the amazing amount of twists and turns to this story. "donated by several people as a gift"????????? that statement is in direct conflict to other statements given i.e. the dirt was found on craigs list. the plan was devised by the then football coach and then principal.

"he also said the district is working with risk management to put together a claims package to recoup lost monies"- yet another inconsistency. the district advised the community in one of its meetings that they would not be able to file a claim - i mean seriously why would we. one or more of suhsd's employees goes on craigs list and arranges the delivery. one of those same employees then signs for the dirt. so, you tell me WHAT CLAIM DO WE HAVE OTHER THAN STUPIDITY?

at this point what are we the community to believe? perhaps the documents that members in the community received via a public records request.

but here is a question for you, why didn't dr. brand take the member of the bond oversight committee up on committee members suggestion to look for other companies to haul away the dirt? why wasn't the work put out to bid? why was the dirt hauled to azuza, ca if it was not considered hazardous? i mean really, does any of this poor management of our tax dollars make any sense at all????????? something tells me this story is far from over.

and where is the board on all of this? where is their outrage? heck, they have failed to ask a single question at the board meetings with the exception of board member lopez. do the others not care? perhaps if it would have been dumped on the east side, perhaps then john mccann would have asked AT LEAST ONE QUESTION?????????

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