Artist’s Drawing courtesy of Blaine
County School District.
Bus barn construction plans advance
School district would donate land in ‘flow through’
"It truly shows people that we are not in the
Blaine County School District superintendent Jim Lewis
said of the district’s preliminary Croy Road plans.
By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer
To acquire just the 10 acres of land it needs to build a
bus barn in Croy Canyon, the Blaine County School District intends to buy
25 acres from Boise resident William Simmons and then donate 15 of that to
the Wood River Land Trust in a "flow through" agreement.
Under the agreement, Simmons would sell the 25 acres to
the district for $262,000, the estimated value of just the 10 acres the
district plans to use, school district superintendent Jim Lewis said
Friday. In exchange for the discount, the district must agree to donate
the remaining 15 acres to the Land Trust to be preserved for the
"public good," the sales agreement states.
"Anybody who thinks the public is getting taken to
the cleaners is wrong," Lewis said, commenting on critics’
accusations that schools are using public funds to purchase land that
would be donated to a private organization.
Lewis said the district must buy the entire 25 acres,
rather than just the 10 acres it needs, because land-use rules would not
allow the property to be subdivided for the sale.
Any tax benefit available for donating the property to the
Land Trust would go to Simmons, Lewis said, not to the district.
Simmons and the district have formally agreed to the sale
with the condition that the district is able to go through with its
construction plans. If those plans fail, the sale is off.
The district has released initial site drawings for its
proposed bus maintenance facility, which show the district and the city of
Hailey would share a single entrance to the area but build different
facilities on individually owned property.
Whether the plans go forward would involve getting
approval from the county planning department. The area is zoned for
residences, but a rezone of the area is unlikely since Idaho law allows
schools to build in residential neighborhoods.
Hailey Mayor Brad Siemer said he doesn’t believe the
proposed maintenance facilities would encourage further light industrial
development in Croy Canyon.
"One zone does not establish a precedent for other
similar zoning situations," he said.
It is not yet clear whether the county planning department
would require any public hearing, which would allow public comment. Lewis
said, however, that the district plans to hold two special public meetings
in the next month as a "chance to have intelligent discussion"
of the issue. The meetings have not been scheduled.
Both the district and Hailey may also need to get a permit
from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work in the wetlands. Hailey city
engineer Tom Hellen said that’s because the current access road to Lion’s
Park would likely need to be moved slightly to the west of its current
location, and some existing cottonwood trees near Croy Road would be
With the exception of the trees, Lewis said, "as near
as we can tell, we’re avoiding the wetlands."
Responding to criticism from neighbors, Lewis said,
"If it’s just because we have neighbors who are against growth, I
understand that." But when plans for Wood River Middle School were
announced, the district had complaints, he said. When plans for the new
high school were announced, again there were complaints. When the district
recently mentioned building an elementary school in Woodside, neighbors
"The only side of town we haven’t touched is the
west side. But you know, it’s part of the community’s growing and
providing for the kids."
The district and Hailey are jointly designing the
facilities. The district hopes to have its construction completed in about