Archive for Thursday, June 22, 2006

District, city OK property exchange

June 22, 2006

They aren't taking part in a television show, but the city of Eudora and USD 491 are trading spaces ---- for good.

The Eudora City Council cemented a deal June 12 during an executive session effectively ending ambiguity stemming from a decades-old land lease agreement.

Before coming to terms, the school district owned the land near Nottingham Elementary School containing the Eudora City Pool and a set of tennis courts. The city owned land currently occupied by the district's Community Learning Center.

In the deal, the city gains full ownership of the land occupied by the pool ---- an issue at heart of an upcoming Aug. 1 referendum for a new $3.8 million pool and recreation complex ---- and the district consolidated its ownership of the old middle school.

"It's a land exchange plus some money the city is giving to the school district," Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said.

In addition to the land on Main Street, the city agreed to pay the district $50,000 for the pool and tennis courts.

During the negotiation process, the city and district valued the land occupied by the pool at $130,000 and the land occupied by middle school at $35,000.

In addition to the appraised value of the two sites, the city worked with the district over a perceived $90,000 invoice for electrical work.

"But the school district felt that the invoice was over-priced," Beatty said.

Eventually both the district and the city settled the price of the invoice at $45,000, leaving the city to pay to the $50,000 difference for the transfer to go through.

"As far as the transaction, I just have to order up the title search and we will have a solution that takes care of both of our needs," Beatty said.

Superintendent Marty Kobza expressed approval of the deal.

"I think it's a great trade," Kobza said. "I think it's a good thing for both the city and the school district to work on something like this for the betterment of the community and also to solidify some of our processes."

For Beatty, one of the best aspects of the deal is that it offers clarity.

"It makes it very clean for both parties that both have the free and clear to make the improvements that both need to make," Beatty said. "It cleans up all the issues regarding land, and any dollars owed or not owed."

With the deal in place, the city could expand the current pool facilities and make way for a potential community center should the August referendum pass.

With complete ownership of the Community Learning Center land, the district has more options than before to explore with the property.

In order to find exactly what those options might be, the district commissioned a study to explore possible uses for the area.

"That will be part of our study that we will be conducting this summer as well," Kobza said. "It will actually be done over the course of this summer and the first semester, and we'll be able to decide what would be best with the property."

One possible use for the building came up for discussion during the June 8 Board of Education meeting.

"One of the things we do know is that we're growing ---- we're out of space for offices, for personnel and some special education programs. We're out space and obviously at Nottingham we're out of classroom space," Kobza said.

The district added an administrative position over the summer for former Eudora Middle School Don Grosdidier. He will now be in charge of developing the district's curriculum, and he will be needing a new office, Kobza said.

Although the ultimate use for both pieces of land is still up in the air, Beatty said an aspect of the deal remains constant.

"It was a very win-win agreement," Beatty said.

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