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Emmetsburg School Board Accepts Offer On Old Middle School

By Staff | Apr 27, 2010

After sitting vacant for more than a year and a half, the old Emmetsburg Middle School building will soon become the property of someone other than the Emmetsburg Community School District.

On Apr. 19, the Board of Education held a public hearing on the sale of the old school building and surrounding lots. The buyer, Dan Kesterson, and Mike Wentzel, realtor, were in attendance. Kesterson offered $20,000 for the property.

Kesterson stated that he was planning on living in a portion of the old school building. In time, he would like to remodel the structure into apartments. He also stated that he had someone indicate interest in operating an antiques shop or mall out of the building.

“There might be a possibility to start a business out of the school, as well,” said Kesterson. “I’d really like to put a roller skating rink in the gym and possibly have it up and running in July.”

He noted that there were some issues with the plumbing and heating, as well as the windows. He had no plans to change the exterior of the building other than adding a sign.

“I would like to get it rezoned and maybe turn it into 10 to 15 apartments—and rent it out to more stable people, like the elderly,” said Kesterson. “I know that takes a lot of money, but I’m selling some property to get this project going. I’ve been taking apart buildings for 32 years and I think the old school has potential. This could be a new career for me.”

“The boiler has gone down since you went through there,” said Superintendent John Joynt. “We have plans to fix that and restore it to where it was. The computer failed and the fresh air louvers were open and a pipe froze next to the louver in the boiler room. All through the building, the water was fine.”

Board member Linda Tienter wondered if the building was old enough to be included on the Historic Registry. Joynt was not aware if it was.

“If you can get it on there, you could qualify for grants,” said Tienter.

“That’s something I could look into,” Kesterson said.

“The original offer was contingent upon the sale of some property Mr. Kesterson had,” stated Mike Wentzel. “He has since sold that property so it’s no longer a contingency. It is a cash sale, so no bank financing is involved. As I’m aware, Mr. Kesterson wants to buy the property as-is, including the way that it’s zoned now.”

Currently, the property is zoned as R2 Medium Density.

“The board has until May 1, to accept or not accept the offer,” said Joynt. “It gets a little complicated selling public property. We have to have another board meeting to pass two legal resolutions. We could do that at the May board meeting.”

“Before we put this property for sale, we told the public we would heat it for two years, then, if there still wasn’t a buyer, keep it unheated for another two years,” said Board President Karla Anderson. “After that, we were looking at tearing it down which would have cost us nearly $200,000. I hope we can make a decision quickly because I’d hate to see that building fall apart because we weren’t heating it anymore.”

With no further comment, the public hearing was closed. The board then addressed the next item of business, the sale of the old Middle School building and property, as well as a separate issue regarding the transfer of the old Middle School football field to the City of Emmetsburg.

“We have a $20,000 cash offer for the old Middle School,” began Joynt. “We can either take the money or not.”

“I believe this is the best offer we’ve seen in a year and a half,” said Laure Egland, member of the board.

Board member Tammy Naig was in agreement. “I think we realize the concerns, and everyone wants to see something happen in that building. Nobody wants to see it become an eyesore,” Naig said. “Mr. Kesterson is here in good faith and has some good ideas. There’s a lot of cost involved in keeping up the building, and in light of budget cuts, I think we need to make a motion tonight to go ahead with the sale.”

Naig then moved to accept the offer; Egland seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

In other business related to school property, the board set the date of Monday, May 17 (the next school board meeting) for the public hearing regarding the transfer of the old Middle School football field to the City of Emmetsburg. The proposal is for the football field to be used by the youth soccer and flag football teams.