Construction halted on contested portion of Cardiff School rebuild 

A judge has granted a temporary injunction preventing construction within the park boundaries at Cardiff School.

Save the Park and Build the School was granted a preliminary injunction in federal court on July 20, temporarily halting construction on the Cardiff School rebuild project’s auditorium and a portion of the parking lot.

The move comes three months after the neighborhood group settled their original lawsuit with Cardiff School District. The injunction is in place while the National Park Service (NPS) prepares a response to the opponents’ request to reconsider its approval of the district’s boundary adjustment which was issued on April 23.

In their second lawsuit, Save the Park has contested NPS’ approval of the boundary conversion of the Cardiff School-owned playfields, which are known as George Berkich Park. The lawsuit alleges NPS violated its own rules in approving an “unlawful” boundary conversion given that the district has not satisfied its state and federal environmental review requirements.

“We are extremely disappointed to have yet another unnecessary delay,” said Cardiff School District Board President Siena Randall. “NPS’s approval of the boundary adjustment was a result of a comprehensive process that took two years to complete and included a thorough evaluation by NPS and extensive due diligence by the district. This is not about saving a park and, sadly, it continues to cost us precious time and money.”

At the hearing, Chief United States District Judge Larry A. Burns granted the injunction through Aug. 31, preventing further construction within the original boundary of the park with the exception of the construction of the biofiltration basins and turf restoration of the playfields. With his decision, Burns said that Save the Park successfully demonstrated it was likely to succeed on the merits of its claims against NPS and in showing that the injunction is in the public interest, if only temporarily.

“Without making a final determination of this issue, the Court finds that Save the Park is likely to be able to show that NPS’s initial, hasty approval of the project was arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion,” wrote Burns in his July 24 order memorializing his ruling.

The temporary injunction expires on Aug. 31, unless extended, or until the NPS reaches a decision on the reconsideration of the approval. During the hearing, the court impressed upon NPS’s counsel the urgency of the reconsideration. NPS’s counsel estimated that the agency may complete its reconsideration around the end of August. Burns wrote that a reversal or modification of the decision would alter the likely outcome of the lawsuit, potentially clarifying whether an injunction for a longer term would be appropriate.

“Given the judge’s criticism of the NPS approval, Save the Park’s expectation and hope is that NPS will revoke its approval and require the district to revise its plans for expansion into Berkich Park,” said Eleanor Musick, a representative of Save the Park.

According to the district, work will continue on the remainder of the campus.

“The district will continue to work with its construction team to honor its commitment to provide a safer and more modern school facility for the Cardiff community,” said the district in a news release.