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Board says yes to selling school land PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 29 June 2016 18:49

Decision paves way for Port-Saukville district to market 54.5 acres of farmland it has owned on city’s west side since 1969

The Port Washington-Saukville School Board voted unanimously Monday to sell 54.5 acres the district has hung on to for 47 years as a site for a school.

Convinced that with the approval of a $49.4 million school renovation referendum last year the district won’t need a new building in the foreseeable future, the board will seek proposals from real estate brokers, then choose a company to market what is now farmland north of Grand Avenue and east of Highway LL on the City of Port Washington’s west side.

“I think this is a gem of a piece of property for residential development,” Supt. Michael Weber said. “It has really nice, family-friendly developments on three sides of it.”

The land is flanked by subdivisions on three sides — Spinnaker West to the south,  The Woods at White Pine to the west and Lake Ridge to the east — and bordered by farmland to the north. Although ideally located for residential development, it’s a less-than-ideal school site because there is no suitable access to the land for the high volumes of traffic a school generates, officials said. 

The value of the land has yet to be determined, Weber said, but the property could net a significant sum. Under school funding rules, the district can use the proceeds to fund capital improvements or purchase other land without affecting the state aid it receives, Director of Business Services Jim Froemming said.

“We’re going to have the broker work with an appraiser to determine the value of the land and a minimum price for the property,” Weber said. 

The school district purchased the property, which is comprised of two parcels, in January 1969 from Elmer and Myrtle Bley for $149,944, long before the subdivisions around it were developed.

“In (1969), the board dreamed of the future,” Froemming said last month. “The question is, does this property have a future in the school district today?”

The answer, school officials said, is no.

The district’s most pressing facility needs will be addressed by the referendum work, which includes a $45.6 million Port Washington High School project and a $3.8 million addition to Dunwiddie Elementary School. Even when the board broached the idea of building a high school on a new site, the land the district already owned wasn’t considered because it is too small by contemporary high school standards.

“It might be big enough for a middle school, but we don’t need a middle school,” Weber said. 

The land could also accommodate an elementary school, but the Dunwiddie project will address space needs in the primary grades. In addition, each of the three elementary schools have space to expand if needed in the future. 

Selling the property could benefit the district in several ways, school officials said. In addition to generating money for capital improvements, the sale will likely result in a residential development that will attract families to Port Washington and boost school enrollment.

“The school district has had this property since 1969, so the board wanted to take its time and make sure this was done right,” Weber said. “The big step was making the decision to sell the land. Now that that’s been done, I think the board will move fairly quickly.”

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