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School Board Moves Forward With Sale of Middle School Lots

By Staff | Nov 20, 2008

An offer to purchase a portion of the Emmetsburg Middle School property was officially made at the Emmetsburg Community Schools Board of Education meeting Monday evening, Nov. 17, at the high school library.

Emmetsburg realtor Mike Wentzel with Farmer’s National Company and Rick Lowe, real estate store development associate for Casey’s in Des Moines, were in attendance.

“We have received an offer on the Middle School property from Casey’s,” began Superintendent John Joynt. “The offer is for $170,000, but is offered specifically for only lots 1 and 2, and the north half of lots 3 and 6, and does not include the building itself or the lots to the south of the building.”

Joynt recommended that the board accept the offer contingent on two conditions: 1) that the district can only offer a quit-claim deed and 2) that all agreements are pending input from a public hearing and final decision of the board. Joynt explained that since the property is owned by the school district, it can only offer a quit-claim deed, and not a warranty deed.

“Technically, you can’t accept the offer until after a public hearing,” Joynt added. “We would need to have a motion for resolution for a public hearing. Then the final decision could be in December.”

Joynt shared that the board has been discussing the potential sale of the Middle School property for several months. In light of that, the superintendent had sent a letter to the city and the county to determine if there was interest in the purchase of the Middle School building.

“I haven’t heard from the city, but I know the County Board of Supervisors talked about it and are planning on touring the building,” said Joynt. “Of course, the building isn’t included in this offer, but it’s going to come up. That’s why I sent those letters out; it’s time to start that discussion.”

“If we were to pursue this and the deal [with Casey’s] would fall through, what would our maximum expense be?” asked Board President Karla Anderson.

“In talking to Mike [Wentzel] and our district lawyer, there really wouldn’t be any expenses other than the legal fees to draw up the resolution and look at the offer. As far as the abstract, we wouldn’t get that far until the offer was further along,” answered Joynt.

Mike Wentzel noted that any costs incurred in completing an environmental study on the site would be at the expense of Casey’s.

“After those tests and studies are done, Casey’s would say ‘let’s go ahead,’ then we’d have the abstract brought up-to-date, and we’d close within 30 days,” Wentzel stated.

“The fact that we’ve been in the community a long time, I don’t see any problems,” said Rick Lowe. Lowe proceeded to show the board a drawing of the new store that Casey’s would like to build on the property.

“There’s only a few of these that have been built in other states,” said Lowe. “It’s substantially bigger and has a lot more room. We feel it’s going to be a good part of the community for a long, long time.”

Anderson expressed her appreciation that Casey’s is interesting in building in the community.

“When we originally stated that we wanted to sell this property, we told the public that we would make sure that the building would not sit empty,” said Anderson. “So, we need to make sure that we put what we’d make on this sale into an account that we could access if we need to tear the Middle School down.”

“I know we committed ourselves to heating the Middle School for at least two years after we close it, and if it’s still empty after four years, that we tear it down,” said Steve Pelzer, board member.

Board member Don Hagen agreed. “I think we owe it to the public to move forward. It’s not our call alone.”

Hagen then moved to adopt a resolution of intent to sell the property and set the public hearing date for Monday, Dec. 15, at 5:30 p.m. in the Emmetsburg High School library. The motion was seconded and unanimously passed.

“I think this is a very generous offer from Casey’s, and I’m glad to see that they’re willing to build in our community and I’m grateful for that,” said David VanOosbree, board member.