School board approves future land sales for educational progam

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Tuesday, August 9, 2016 8:23pm
  • News

The Board of Education has secured seven vacant lots in the Deepwood Park subdivision in Kenai for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Career and Technical Education program by conveying the title to the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Disagreements surfaced on how to resolve the transfer during Monday’s regularly scheduled board meeting. Some board members found the original proposed motion lacked clear blueprints for how proceeds would be allocated and whether or not the board would have a final say in parcel sales.

Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones said the decision is coming up now because board’s authority to make one at all would become void within the next two years.

The Kenai Peninsula Building Authority, Inc., dissolved by the state in 2013, purchased the nine original parcels in 1981 for $103,500, for the school district’s vocational education building program, according to a board memo. Following the lapse the board has five years to act on the KPBA’s behalf and determine what will be done with the remaining lots in the long-term. The land must be used for educational purposes.

The school district legally cannot hold onto the land or manage land sales, but the borough has jurisdiction to do so on the school districts’s behalf, Jones said. Any proceeds from future land sales would not be considered a part of the school district’s general fund because the parcels were originally purchased for a special program, he said.

Board members agreed it was pertinent to take action immediately.

“My understanding was we need to do something, we need to act while we can, before we face even more legal hassle,” said board member John Kelly. “By conveying ourselves from this now debunked corporation, we are just protecting ourselves to then decide what happens.”

Board members Penny Vadla and Lynn Hohl suggested the group postpone any decisions on what entity will market land or dole out proceeds.

“I don’t think that we need to couple those decisions tonight since it’s a little bit controversial,” Vadla said. “I think it would be more intelligent to think about this and do one portion of it (tonight) and one portion later.”

Ultimately, both issues were addressed Monday evening.

Hohl moved the board scratch language in the original motion that she said would encourage the borough to sell the land without input from the school district’s Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee.

“I would like it to be clear that they (the borough) hold it for us while we have more discussion on it and as soon as that discussion is over we can just to dispose of it however we will,” Hohl said.

Board member Tim Navarre said he did not see the original motion as inspiring snappy sales.

He also moved to change language that made selling less than imminent, saying that the land needs to be sold indefinitely.

Navarre said the vacant lots are “infecting a neighborhood and not allowing them to grow or to advance.”

“But that’s why I want ‘when’ not ‘if’, and I don’t want ‘when’ and ‘if’, so that’s why I wish you’d support my motion,” he said.

Both Navarre’s and Hohl’s motions passed, defining the board as the sole authority in sales decisions.

“My only hope is that the borough will accept property with a caveat like that hanging on it, but you guys can negotiate that,” said Board President Joe Arness.

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

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