Friday, March 4, 2005

Woodside school negotiations final

City takes ownership of housing property

Express Staff Writer

Along with final annexation approval for a Woodside Elementary School, the Hailey City Council Monday accepted a school district contribution of housing lots adjacent to the proposed school property.

"They signed an annexation agreement that appropriately starts taking care of some housing needs and everybody saw it," said John Gaeddert, consultant on the school, "I thought that was excellent, the classic win -- win."

The school will be located east of Woodside Boulevard with a new entrance at the intersection of Berrycreek Drive and Mountain Ash for the school district. The project is for a 54,000-square foot school, for which the city is charging the school district a $70,000 annexation fee. Bidding opens for the 23 construction components of the project March 10 at 2 p.m. at the school district offices.

The city was planning to charge an additional $40,000 for residential units planned for the property, but the city will take ownership of the land rather than accept the additional fees. The theory is that eight town homes could be designed to serve as a benefit to prospective teachers or city employees thinking of relocating to the area. The deal also saves the school district money, although they will retain responsibility for maintaining the entire property, including snow removal.

The city council is reluctant to forgo any potential fees, considering the city's tight budget, but the council agreed the school district proposal to exchange the residential property for the $40,000 annexation fee showed long-term benefits. There also has been debate over who would pay for 1,000 linear feet of six-foot wide sidewalk on the property. The two entities decided to split the cost of sidewalk construction.

The city could have simply accepted the proposed annexation fees. However, the school district will still pay the initial $70,000 fee, but other aspects of the project, like the loss of some property to be used for an emergency access route through the proposed Echo Hill Park north of the school property, will be mitigated by the property exchange.

"In total, the city will take title probably to an acre of land," Gaeddert said. "With our (planned unit development agreement) that we filed for the future housing, (the lots) would have improvements on them that would be used for municipal purposes."

What the city does with the property should be complementary to the school, Gaeddert said.

"I think what occurred was a great partnership. The school district looked long term and the city looked long term."

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