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Deal sets stage for possible academy for 200 students

Manteca has engineered a win-win-win deal for troublesome vacant land on South Union Road that over the years has been a major enclave for illegal homeless camps, a magnet for illegal trash dumping, the source of two fires that threatened nearby homes, and has ongoing contaminated soil issues.
The deal concerns the fenced off Gordon property at 1085 South Union Road at the T-intersection with Mission Ridge Drive. 
The deal brokered could result in:
uthe building of a private school academy on the site
uproviding clean fill dirt for the Union Road/120 Bypass interchange upgrade work expected to start next year.
The property has been blighted since the mid-1980s. There have been a number of fires over the years with the most recent in June of 2013 that threatened nearby homes. The remaining structures were razed at that time to severely reduce the problem of illegal homeless camping. Officials believe the fires on the property were inadvertently started by homeless individuals either trying to stay warm or cooking food.
The property was once used to operate a chemical reformulation and repackaging business known as Gordon Research. Although leftover chemicals were removed, an investigation noted 13 areas that are contaminated with lead, arsenic, and cadmium, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins, and petroleum hydrocarbons. The California Environmental Protection Agency determined there was no imminent threat to the ground water so the risk wasn’t high enough for the agency to fund the cleanup.
The property has been for sale for 16 years with no takers until now.
The Islamic Center of Manteca wants to establish the Nur Al-Huda Academy & College Preparatory on the site.
The envisioned elementary school would serve about 200 students. It would consist of three buildings, playing fields, and a parking lot. The school would employ about 25 teachers and staff.
They are currently in negotiations with the property owner to buy the property as well as with the California Department of Toxic Substances to remove contaminated soil.
The city’s role in making it happen is agreeing to release a $48,554 lien against the property in exchange for 17,000 cubic feet of clean fill dirt for either the interchange project and/or the new administration building at the wastewater treatment facility.
The liens are for costs the city has occurred over the year abating weeds and removing trash that had been illegally dumped on the property creating a fire hazard.
Should the site fail to yield the entire 17,000 cubic feet, whatever amount the city is shorted would require the academy to pay the city $3 a cubic foot.
The settlement agreement for the lien is before the City Council when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email