Urbana City Schools may purchase property off South U.S. Route 68 for one of its two new schools.
The school board unanimously approved the tentative purchase of 68.9 acres of property on the east side of U.S. Route 68 between the Vintage Drive Thru and Campground Road for $925,000 at a special Monday board meeting. The property is currently owned by Stephanie Lyons and Barry W. Logan.
The school board action gives the district a 90-day window for officials to investigate the property to be certain it can be used as a building site for the pre-kindergarten to eighth-grade new school building. That includes conducting a site survey, geotechnical investigation and planning for site utilities.
The school board also authorized amending school district appropriations to reflect the possible sale. Dollars for the purchase would come from the district’s cash reserves, Treasurer Mandy Hildebrand said.
The pre-kindergarten to eighth-grade building originally was to be located on the nearly 60 acres of property the school district already owns off Community Drive. The district purchased the Community Drive property for $891,660 in 2004, Treasurer Mandy Hildebrand said previously.
But the Community Drive property is located next door to the city’s former landfill, which may have methane gas leakage issues. That is currently being investigated by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the city has not yet worked out what it has to do to mitigate any migration of gas across property lines. While that is being investigated, school site development on that property has ceased, delaying the school building project.
The South U.S. 68 property is not in the Urbana city limits, but there are city water and sewer lines in that area providing city services to Vancrest of Urbana and the former Lawnview School. The school district could tap into city services through those lines, though the fees would be higher if they do not annex into the city, Urbana Community Development Manager Doug Crabill said Monday. And Urbana City Council would need to approve providing city services to a site that is not in the city limits.
The property is located to a contiguous parcel in the city limits, making it a candidate to be annexed, Crabill said.
Urbana City Schools Superintendent Charles Thiel said staff will discuss with city officials the annexation process, but did not say if the school district will pursue annexation.
“The extra cost (for utilities) may make it an unviable property,” he said after the board meeting.
The district is also paying $17,400 to a farmer using the South U.S. Route 68 land for crops so that farmer is not harmed while the district investigates the viability of the property. If the district decides to purchase the land, that cost will be credited to the purchase price, Thiel said, meaning the district will not pay more than $925,000 and closing costs for the property.
The school building project will also knock down and rebuild the high school on its current site. The district originally wanted to build the pre-kindergarten to eighth-grade building first, but the delay due to the uncertainty of the Ohio EPA city landfill investigation caused the district to consider other property for the school building.
The project has been delayed at least six months because of the methane investigation. The district is now hoping to start construction of the high school first, to minimize any more delay.
Read more about the potential school district property purchase in Wednesday’s Urbana Daily Citizen.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.