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6 Investigates: Military committee plans to discuss concerns with new Carroll High School

A committee that fights to protect military bases and training air fields in South Texas is expected to meet to discuss its concerns about the location of the proposed Mary Carroll High School.

That’s after the Navy revealed its recommendation that Corpus Christi ISD not build a campus for the new  Carroll High School in a crash zone for Cabaniss Field. CCISD has confirmed it recently purchased the 60 acres of land needed to build that campus on Saratoga Boulevard, near the intersection of Weber Road.

The task force is expected to meet next week to discuss the issue, said Joe Guzman, director of South Texas Military Facilities Task Force.

In response to that meeting, the district issued a statement that read in part: “As a proud member of the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, CCISD would be glad to discuss the district’s future with any of the chamber’s committees, including the South Texas Military Facilities Task Force.”

Building a school in that area could lead to bigger problems down the road, said Nueces County Judge Loyd Neal, a long-time member of the South Texas Military Facilities Task Force.

“If the Navy perceives it to be an issue, then it’s a real issue,” Neal said. “If the Department of Defense perceives it to be an encroachment problem, then it’s a problem.”

A high school campus being built on the edge of a potential accident zone near Navy flight training could be considered encroachment.

That describes when unwanted development, such as high-density housing, is built too close to military flight training facilities. It’s those kinds of developments the Navy has said shouldn’t be there.

That’s a negative that could put area military installations at risk for Base Realignment And Closure, also known as BRAC, Neal said.

“So I’m really hoping our school district has done a lot of work with the Navy because the greatest employer we have is NAS-Corpus Christi,” Neal said.

Earlier this year, Navy and the school district met after the Navy sent CCISD a letter in March that recommended the school district not build the high school campus in that area.

A CCISD official has said during that meeting Navy officials were briefed about the district’s need to build the new campus at that location.

It’s one of the few pieces of vacant land available in that area, and it’s located in the middle of the school boundaries for Carroll High School, John Dibala, CCISD construction project manager, said in an interview last week.

The Navy has concerns with the noise pollution caused by low-flying Navy planes and the possibility of a plane crashing into a building with lots of people inside of it.

In response, CCISD moved the location of the classrooms to the other side of the property, out of the flight path. That still leaves the athletic fields in the flight path.

As for the noise of the planes, Dibala has said the new building will be insulated and it shouldn’t affect students. The Navy has not said whether CCISD’s new campus layout addressed its concerns.

KRIS 6 News asked CCISD on Friday for copies of the letter it received from the Navy and also a copy of the district’s response. The school district has acknowledged the request, but has not provided the letters.

Here is CCISD’s full statement for today’s story:

“CCISD’s extensive planning has included discussing the property with city zoning officials and local Navy officials. Should voters approve Bond 2018, CCISD looks forward to joining the other schools, houses of worship, and businesses in the Weber and Saratoga area.

“As a proud member of the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, CCISD would be glad to discuss the district’s future with any of the chamber’s committees, including the South Texas Military Facilities Task Force.”

 

Jessica Savage

Jessica Savage

Award-winning investigative reporter who has worked in East Texas and South Texas.
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