Three court-appointed appraisers will determine the value of land USD 231 wants to purchase.
The school district and the owner of property near Waverly Pointe subdivision will make their cases during a hearing on April 1. Appraisers will then determine the land’s fair market value no later than April 12. The hearing is part of eminent domain proceedings that could eventually see the district condemn and take the property.
According to Bill Miller, USD 231 Director of Operations, the district wants the land between Gardner Edgerton High School and Waverly Pointe for additional parking and athletic practice fields, however owners of the property believe the land is worth more than what school officials are offering.
Appraisers for the district have valued the land, but they did not take into consideration an earlier offer-to-purchase worth more.
“The real issue is, what is this thing worth,” property owner Ken Rogler told The Gardner News in December.
Last fall, Rogler had an offer from a developer to purchase the land and build up to three, 48-unit, income-based apartment buildings. That developer, Overland Property Group, has since terminated it’s option to purchase the land, after failing to obtain tax-credits from the state.
School officials deny that their interest in the land is related to the possibility of income-based apartments near GEHS, however a number of school employees protested the proposed development at a city council meeting in September.
High school teacher and GEHS track coach Brian McGee said income-based apartments near the school would create a stereotype of the school.
“When those team buses come into Gardner, they will be saying, those are the projects of Gardner,” McGee told Gardner City Council members during a meeting in September.
Assistant GEHS football coach, Kris Henry, worried about the type of people such a development would bring to town.
“Call it what it is,” Henry said during the same meeting. “It’s going to be people with income of $25,000, paying rents of $500. Crime will go up. Drugs will go up in this community.”
Miller said once purchased, the land will not be developed into practice fields and parking until school district voters approve a bond issue.
School officials will ask voters to green light a $60-$70 million bond issue during a mail-in ballot election on Jan. 31, 2012.
Miller said specific construction timelines are still in the development stage. Currently, the school district owns approximately 313 acres within the Gardner Edgerton School District. That number includes 78 acres at the district’s elementary schools; 35 acres at Wheatridge Middle School; 45 acres at Pioneer Ridge, part of which is to be used for a future elementary school; 75 acres at GEHS; 80 acres at 151st Street and Moonlight Road to be used for a future high school; and 23 acres under contract near Plum Creek subdivision to be developed if the Jan. 31, 2012 bond issue passes.