Tipp City schools wants to hang on to vacant land

The Tipp City Exempted Village Schools Board of Education said it wants to hang onto Michaels Road property bought several years ago as the possible location for a new high school that ended up being built elsewhere.
The Tipp City Exempted Village Schools Board of Education said it wants to hang onto Michaels Road property bought several years ago as the possible location for a new high school that ended up being built elsewhere.

TIPP CITY — The Tipp City Exempted Village Schools Board of Education said it wants to hang onto Michaels Road property bought several years ago as the possible location for a new high school that ended up being built elsewhere.

The continued interest in the five parcels obtained by the district over the last 30 years was explored with current board members July 27 by district Treasurer Dave Stevens.

The question came up when a developer approached the district recently with interest in buying a portion of the land. Other properties in the area of Michaels and Evanston roads have been developed in recent years for housing.

The school district owns five properties along Michaels Road totaling around 80 acres. Interest was expressed in a 22.5 acre lot designated as a land lab, Stevens said.

Stevens told the board his personal thoughts were the district has been trying to build a new building, most recently as May 2019 when a bond issue for elementary classrooms at the district’s Hyatt Street campus was defeated by voters.

“We may be going back to square one. We currently don’t know what is going to happen with COVID-19, with education in the future,” Stevens said. “We’ve had it (the land) 30 years. What’s another few more years?”

School boards attempting to build a new Tippecanoe High School in the 1990s and early 2000s looked at a Michaels Road area site south of town but a bond issue failed twice. Voters later accepted a proposal to build the new school on the north side off Kessler-Cowlesville Road.

If the board decided to sell the land, the district by state law would first have to offer it to a charter school, if there is one local. A search by attorneys did not identify any charter, Stevens said. The land then could not be sold privately but would have to be offered by auction. At least two parties have expressed interest in some of the property in recent years.

The piece of property for which interest most recently was expressed was purchased in 1987 for the land lab and has a deed restriction on sale for 50 years, Stevens sad.

Board President Theresa Dunaway said she was not interested in the land being sold for housing. “If we sell this land and they put in more homes and we are still trying to build new buildings, my personal opinion is we don’t need more homes right now,” she said.

“Holding onto that land will increase the value and adds to the board’s options for building,” said board member Joellen Heatherly. “It doesn’t have to be elementary schools, it could be other use.”

Other board members agreed. “It is not on my agenda at this time to sell property,” said member Simon Patry.

If someone interested in the future approaches the district, the board could later revisit the issue, Dunaway said.

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