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Six Little League diamonds in Huntington Beach in jeopardy, Jan. 2005

Six Little League diamonds in Huntington Beach receiving a $200,000 donation five years ago from Major League Baseball and a children's foundation operated by retired slugger Mark McGwire, whose son played at the fields are in jeopardy. Related information: See photos of new HB Sports Complex and other Huntington Beach Parks with ball fields

An electronic scoreboard, new bleachers, the resurfaced infields and the enclosed, brick dugouts are threatened by bulldozers.

Trustees of the Fountain Valley School District debated whether the diamonds are better kept intact for the 600-player baseball league, or whether they ' and the rest of a former 15-acre school site ' should be sold off for residential development. The financially strapped district could gain as much as $25 million.

The ball fields, at Pioneer Avenue and Magnolia Street, were part of a campus used until 1983 as Wardlow Elementary School. With declining enrollment, the campus was converted for use by the Boys & Girls Club, which serves 1,120 members at the site, and as a Head Start chapter. The ball fields were leased to the Little League.

 Little League parents and McGwire's foundation have organized petition drives and created a website,

The school board will vote Thursday not only on the sale of the Wardlow property, but also on two other former school sites, Lamb and Nieblas. Blade said the sale of all three properties could bring the district about $80 million, which, if invested, would generate $4 million to $5 million annually.

The district now makes about $250,000 a year leasing the properties to the baseball and youth clubs, preschools, the American Youth Soccer Organization and the Huntington Beach Union High School District for office space.

The sale proceeds, Blade said, could be used to increase teacher salaries, which are among the lowest in Orange County, reinstitute music programs, hire more tutors and reading specialists and restore class-size reduction by adding teachers.

Huntington Beach officials say they are exploring their options. Councilwoman Debbie Cook said the city could buy the land, with voter approval of a parcel tax. The Naylor Act allows cities, counties, nonprofit organizations and recreational districts to buy school district land for 25% of its market value.

School district officials said the land would not be sold to a developer until late 2006 at the earliest, meaning the Huntington Valley Little League can count on at least two more seasons.

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