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3 West Valley View, Avondale, Arizona, Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Scout (From Page 1)


Litchfield Road, which is a public pathway. The City Council will then vote upon purchasing the three areas of land.


Park. In December, the company told City Manager Darryl Crossman that acquiring Scout Park would cost at least $1.7 million. No word yet on how much the city is willing to spend on acquiring the three parcels of land.


Dragon and Crane is the current land owner of Scout


Phone calls to Crossman and Schoaf were not returned before press time Monday. Scout Park has been a problem spot for the city in recent years as it has greatly deteriorated due to lack of maintenance. SunCor sold the park to Kabuto in 1990 along with the Wigwam. JDM Partners bought the Wigwam in December 2009 for $45 million through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, but Scout Park was not part of that purchase. In January 2010, the city began discussing with Kabuto the acquisition of the park and agreed to maintain and repair the park in exchange for use by the public. From March to May 2010, the city spent $15,000 on maintaining the park. “Later on, Mr. [Shigeru] Sato [the president of Kabuto] said there is no agreement, so the public can’t use it,” Schoaf said at the city’s annual Town Hall meeting in January. Since June 2010, the City Council has met more than 25 times about Kabuto and Scout Park, all in executive session. Eventually Litchfield Park officials asked for the park to be donated to the city and then offered to pay $200,000 for it, Schoaf said in January. “Mr. Sato said he might sell it for $450,000,” the mayor said. “We asked him to put it in writing, he did not.” Litchfield Park offered to pay $275,000 for the park and a nearby pathway in May 2011; Kabuto stated the terms of the purchase were unacceptable. The city had been watering the park since June 2010, costing $20,000, and in August 2011 decided to stop watering the park and advised Kabuto of its decision. Then on Aug. 31, 2011, Kabuto sold Scout Park to


Nevada-based Dragon and Crane for $250,000. The city immediately contacted the park’s new owner about its desire to purchase it and in November 2011 was told it was not for sale. After asking the company to reconsider, Dragon and Crane stated on Dec. 29, 2011, that it would sell the park at a “minimum of $300,000 per acre,” Schoaf said at the Town Hall meeting.


Rich Ott can be reached by email at rott@westvalleyview.com.


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Gym (From Page 1)


multi-year remodel/rebuild project that calls for several buildings to be torn down.


Among them are the gymnasium, which was built in 1928, the cafeteria, constructed in 1959, and the administration building, which was added in 1968. However, before the walls come down, the Litchfield Elementary School District decided to throw an open house. Kiss the Gym Goodbye will run from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday in the gymnasium and cafeteria and Wood will be its master of ceremonies. “It was a good gym and it provided a lot of thrills,”


said Wood, who went to school there from 1946 to 1950, when it was Litchfield High. “But it’s old and tired now and is on life support. I take solace in knowing there will be a new gym there that will have everything needed for the kids of today.”


The kids of yesterday Friday’s event is to allow the kids of yesterday one more time inside those “old and tired” buildings, such as the gymnasium and cafeteria. “The idea of the event is to bring together folks who went to school there, taught there or had their kids go there and reminisce before they tear it down,” said Meredeth Stucky, secretary for the Litchfield Park Historical Society. “It’s just a big party to get people together who had great times and great memories there.” Planning this last hoorah all started when members of the community, such as Wood, contacted Ann Donahue, district spokeswoman, about the possibility of organizing such an event.


city officials, as well as community and Litchfield Park Historical Society members. The end result of several meetings is Friday’s event, which is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served, Donahue said. The event is an important one for the 3.3-square- mile city of Litchfield Park, as the school is one of the constants that have been there from the beginning. When the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. came to the area to grow long-staple cotton for its tires, families of the men working the fields followed. A school was needed for the children and one began on Oct. 9, 1917, under the guidance of teacher Mable Padgett. By 1927, all high school grades were offered. Dubbed Litchfield High, it remained a grammar and high school until 1956, when ninth to 12th-grade students went to the brand-new campus in Avondale, Agua Fria Union High School, thus turning Litchfield High into Litchfield Elementary. Both schools kept the same mascot, the Owl.


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Stucky said. “Friendships and memories is what [Kiss the Gym Goodbye] is all about.”


Memories Wood has many memories to share with those in attendance at the event. He played basketball all four years at the high school


“Litchfield Elementary is the center of our town,”


and was part of the school’s six-man football team, a squad that won the 1949 Class C state championship and holds the state record for most lopsided victory, 118-0 against Peoria High. However, it was a basketball game against Peoria that stands out in Wood’s mind. “All of a sudden the lights went out in the gym and we were in total darkness,” he recalled. “Back in those days, a lot of people smoked, so everyone that had a cigarette lighter took it out and had it burning. People with cigarettes lit the gym up.”


Another memory relating to the gym and the basketball team has to do with the balcony on the south side, which is no longer there.


“If we had a good basketball practice, the coach would let us go up there and throw basketballs down on the baskets,” Wood said. “So we always worked hard in practice because that was a lot of fun.” Another aspect about the gym not many people know is it used to house the journalism classroom under the seats, which is where the students would produce the annuals, which are now called yearbooks, he said. That room is currently being used for storage, Wood


said.


One part of the old gym that will remain in the new is the L circle located in the middle of the court. Plans call for it to be cut out and attached on the new gym floor, Donahue said.


“I’m proud to see that happen,” Wood said. “A little bit of the old gym will still be there from the old days.” Another part of the old days is the Owls’ game clock and scoreboard, an ancient piece of machinery that stopped working years ago.


event roughly around 7:30 p.m. with all proceeds going to the school, Donahue said. Former students, teachers and community members can also request a piece of the wooden floor from the gym or a brick from the cafeteria and/or administration building at Friday’s event.


Those pieces will then be handed out at the open house of the new gym, which is scheduled to be ready for the 2013-14 school year, Donahue said. For questions or to be put on the list, call Donahue at 623-535-6047 or email her at Donahue@lesd.k12.az.us.


Rich Ott can be reached by email at rott@westvalleyview.com.


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