Vacant school, district property stirs interest from various groups
Various groups and businesses are interested in USD 348’s vacant elementary school and the surrounding property, but Superintendent Paul Dorathy doesn’t expect a decision in the near future.
The school district property, which runs from Fifth to Eighth streets and from Baker to Chapel streets, has officially been for sale since early November. During the past three months, 12 different parties have expressed interest in the property.
“I’d say nothing is going to come quickly with this,” Dorathy said at Monday’s school board meeting. “I don’t see anything happening quickly unless someone comes in with a very large offer.”
Board members discussed the sale of the property and which piece of it the interested parties wanted. Board Members Ruth Barkley and Josh Mihesuah are heading a committee to find the best possible solution for the property.
“I think our biggest thing is trying to put a price on it,” Mihesuah said. “That’s really hard, unless you have someone come in and do it and that costs a lot of money. Plus that’s their price tag. It’s probably worth whatever to whomever wants it the most. It’s tough to put a price tag on it.”
Barkley, Dorathy and Mihesuah have met with several of the interested groups and discussed the property. Most of those groups are businesses or community groups.
Board Member Ande Parks asked Dorathy if they got the feeling that most people were interested in the entire property.
“No, I don’t think so,” Dorathy said. “I think we have some parties who are interested in different things. I think everyone we’ve talked to kind of has a different idea of what they would like to see happen. They also have different parts that they would be interested in.”
The property for sale includes the old Baldwin Elementary School, District Office, grass lot east of the old school building and the South Gym, which houses the Baldwin High School wrestling team and cheerleader squad.
For now, the school district will keep talking to interested groups about the property and see what offers it receives.
“We’re still arranging tours,” Barkley said. “Some of them have to go back and talk to other parties after their visit. That’s something we’re still in the process of discovering, if you will.
“It’s not like we are going to come back next month and bring you six offers to look at,” she said. “The people interested have their own problems and people to go through first.”
Anyone who is interested in the property should call the District Office at (785) 594-2721.
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