Dear District Residents:
On December 15, 2015, the District’s voters will be asked to authorize the Board of Education of the Randolph Central School District to purchase the 1.4 acre property at the bottom of our entrance drive from Mr. William Morrison. The purchase price would be $39,504.72. Having received the audit results for the 2014-2015 school year, we know we have excess unappropriated fund balance to cover the full cost of this property purchase. The purchase would be at no additional cost to the taxpayer.
The Board and administration firmly believe that acquiring the Morrison property is in the District’s best interests and that the options available could include utilizing the property within the District’s current capital project to further improve traffic flow and enhance the safety of the campus roadways and parking spaces.
We want to be straight forward with the District residents in this matter; therefore, I am writing you with additional information with regard to this property and a possible plan for its use.
Why purchase the property now? Obtaining this 1.4 acre space is a logical and appropriate decision for the Randolph Central School District. The space is surrounded by District property and visually already appears to be part of the campus’ front lawn. Having it owned and maintained by the School District and not open to various potential incompatible uses by an individual land owner makes long-term sense. Moreover, the school property is fundamentally landlocked and options for expansion are limited. This property potentially would enable us to expand the parking and driving areas without significantly impacting the practice and playing spaces.
How does this property purchase potentially affect our current voter approved capital project? Our #1 priority in the current project is to improve the safety and traffic flow of our parking lots. In the current plan, we are adding curbing, bus only zones and specified traffic flow zones which result in a loss of parking spots immediately outside of the HS front doors. Parking is already tight for events, so we need to replace the lost parking area. The current plan would convert the tennis and basketball courts to additional parking spaces, with the loss of one of the tennis courts and rerouting the walkway from the school to the football field. One concern with this plan is the location of the walkway. It would run through the newly created parking area and would require those parking there to cross the road when walking up to the school.
If the District owns the Morrison property, it could improve its current plan by adding parking spots in a lower lot as compared to the tennis court area. If authorized by the Board, this would be a non-material amendment to the current capital project plan, which would be submitted to SED for its review and approval. The voter-approved proposition for the current capital project specifically authorized the Board to make such amendments to the capital project scope, by “reallocation, deletion, revision or supplementation” of the components of the capital project that were presented to the public for approval.
With a December 15 vote, there is plenty of time to submit the amendment for approval by SED before we go to bid on our current project. If the acquisition were to be approved by the public and an amendment to the project plan were to be submitted to the SED and approved, the District would be swapping a parking lot at the tennis courts for one on the Morrison property, gaining additional parking spots without disrupting the walkway and without losing one of the tennis courts.
While this property purchase proposal represents an additional cost for the purchase of the property, the development costs would be essentially cost- neutral to the estimates for the parking and court changes further up the hill. The possible resulting plan would be safer, maintaining all of the courts and further improving the campus traffic flow.
What’s the background on the property? Several years ago, under the leadership of a different administration and Board of Education, the Randolph School District put forth a proposal to purchase the 1.4 acre property at the bottom of our entrance drive from Mr. William Morrison. That purchase was part of a larger project that included removing the bus garage. The capital project was rejected by the voters. The School District is now embarking on a capital project approved by the voters to improve traffic flow and increase the safety of the campus roadways and parking spaces without removing the bus garage.
The property was purchased by Mr. Morrison upon request by, and with an initial investment of $10,000, from Mr. David Adams. Mr. Adams has recently relinquished all ownership of the property to Mr. Morrison. Mr. Morrison demolished and removed the dilapidated building and cleaned up the lot. He did this with the understanding that the school couldn’t purchase the building directly and remove it due to the building’s designation as a “historical property”. In reality, the building was in very poor condition; any attempt to restore the property would have required an investment estimated at over two hundred thousand dollars. Mr. Morrison was attempting to help the district obtain the property despite the unbefitting designation. He, as an individual owner (unlike the School District), was free to demolish the building. Mr. Morrison has $39,504.72 invested in this property including the purchase, demolition and maintenance to date.
For all the reasons above, we are proposing a Special Vote by District residents to approve purchase of the property from Mr. Morrison for $39,504.72.
Please call or see any Board member or Superintendent Kimberly Moritz with questions you might have on this transaction and please vote on December 15, 2015. Thank you.
Michael Evans, President, RCS Board of Education and fellow Board members: Daniel Jackson, Vice President, David Adams, Louise Boutwell, Janet Huntington, Marshall Johnson, Julie Milliman