Local schools want more money if Disney expands

Local officials scheduled more talks Thursday with the Walt Disney Co. after school districts around Disneyland said a proposed $ 2.75 billion park expansion would require more money for more classrooms.

County planning commissioners Wednesday heard 35 speakers, including former Disney employees and tourism officials, support the expansion. The new Disneyland Resort is one of the biggest developments ever planned in Orange County.

Disney says the project will generate about 12,000 jobs. Those workers, school officials argue, will bring more students to the area.

“Our board supports the economic activity of this project, but none of these benefits will stop the overcrowding of our schools,” said Celia Dougherty, president of the Anaheim School Board.

Twenty residents, property owners and city officials of neighboring Garden Grove also complained about the traffic, noise and air pollution the project will bring.

“I really think this is just a big, slick business deal, and there really isn’t any concern for the quality of life in this area,” said Richard Anthony, a member of Anaheim Homeowners Maintaining their Environment.

Disney has agreed to pay $ 2.5 million in developer fees to two Anaheim school districts. The districts say they will need about $ 91 million worth of new classrooms. Buena Park and Garden Grove also want compensation.

School supporters said environmental impact statements should be reviewed to correct deficiencies.

“That’s the normal type of comment from people in opposition to a project,” said Anaheim City Attorney Jack White. “The city believes the data is adequate and complies with the state law.”

Commissioners planned to ask Disney about school impacts and other issues when the session resumed Thursday night, said Robert Henninger, Planning Commission chairman.

A public meeting on unresolved issues was tentatively set for May 24. The City Council also plans hearings.

Plans for the 546-acre expansion include a Westcot Center theme park, 4,600 hotel rooms, and artificial lake, a garden district and two parking garages.

The project will generate up to $ 150 million in taxes for Anaheim, Orange County and the state, Disney has estimated.

“Disneyland Resort is the right project in the right place at the right time, ” said Jack Lindquist, president of Disneyland.

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