News and Tribune

March 10, 2014

Sight lines at school entrance to improve: NA-FC schools purchases property near Georgetown Elementary


GEORGETOWN — In a few weeks, parents, bus drivers and Georgetown Elementary employees might finally be able to see if traffic is coming from their right on Ind. 64 as they exit the campus.

The New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp.’s board of trustees voted to purchase a property at 8810 Ind. 64 at its meeting Monday night. The board attempted to purchase the same property at its October 2013 meeting, but the owner failed to meet some terms of the sale.

Brad Snyder, deputy superintendent, said the property was listed at about $112,000 in October, but the board offered $75,000. While the owner agreed to the amount, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development wouldn’t accept the price.

But the new agreement for $85,513 comes in at HUD’s lowest acceptable amount.

Snyder’s comment on the difficulty of seeing west-bound traffic drew snickers from the audience and board members.

“If anybody has ever tried to leave Georgetown Elementary, you can have some sight lines to the left,” Snyder said. “It’s impossible to see oncoming traffic to the right.”

In August 2013, the board passed $2 million in general obligation bonds to fund 10 projects — among those, updating the entrance to Georgetown Elementary, as well as adding parking.

While trying to figure out the funding portion of purchasing the property at Tuesday’s meeting, the board changed gears on how it would use the funding they set aside in the bonds for the project from their original plans.

Using the $180,000 earmarked in the bonds for the school, Snyder said it could use some of that money to purchase the property. But he said he wasn’t sure the remainder would end with the product the board envisioned.

“In my mind, we might be able to get what we wanted,” Snyder said. “[Or] some version of what we want for $180,000.”

Boone said though the board could use emergency funds in its capital projects fund to purchase the property, it should consider other options, such as reallocating money in the next couple of years to do justice to the entry for the school.

“Bigger than that, now that the house is gone, our vision of Georgetown should change,” Boone said. “I want to make sure we do everything for Georgetown Elementary that we should do there and give them everything that they need.”

Rebecca Gardenour, board member, asked D.J. Hines, board president, whether it would make more sense to wait until the property went into foreclosure in June and possibly save some more money.

Hines said he would abstain from the vote because his business partner at Schuler Bauer Real Estate Services, David Bauer, is involved in the sale. But he said the possibility of someone purchasing the property at that time before the district could put in an offer was a risk that came with waiting until this summer.

He said for the last few months, it’s been to the advantage of the district to work with Schuler Bauer on the sale.

“I think Dr. Snyder and the agent that has it listed have done a pretty good job of keeping it quiet that we could be the buyer,” Snyder said, “which has served us well.”

Snyder said he planned on closing on the property in the next few days, then demolition could begin in about a month. The board accepted the motion with only Hines abstaining.

The board also gave administrators permission to investigate whether they want to purchase another property on Shelby Street, which they’ve been purchasing in a larger plan to expand parking for New Albany High School.

The home at 1819 Shelby Street caught fire in January. A fire investigator at the time said refurbishing the home could have been an option, but Snyder said the owners are considering it a loss.

He said the property to the east of the home was also damaged in the fire. He said the board’s motion would authorize administrators to hire appraisers and follow other protocol to investigate whether it made sense to buy the property.

But Snyder said many moving parts may affect the entire deal.

“I think this will be a many-splendored thing,” Snyder said. “I think there will be insurance company representatives, there’s tenants, there’s an owner, there’s some children. They see what’s going on and they’re trying to debate rebuilding. I don’t have a good answer at this point because I haven’t gone very far.”

The board unanimously approved the motion.