Janesville53.2°

Evansville School district ponders property purchase

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GINA R. HEINE
October 1, 2009
— Evansville School District is considering buying and razing a home adjacent to J.C. McKenna Middle School to increase green space and safety in the busy student drop-off area behind the school.

Voters will have to approve the purchase of the property at 302 S. Second St., at a meeting Monday, Oct. 12.


Buying the property would add green space and improve safety in the busy student drop-off area behind the school, officials say.


“For those reasons—safety, green space—the property is attractive,” Board President Michael Pierick said.


The home was up for sale this summer, but the district missed the deadline to make an offer, he said.


The property’s new owners, John and Barb Willoughby, are willing to sell to the district, he said. The Willoughbys bought the property for $75,000 plus closing costs and are willing to sell it to the district for what they put into it, Carvin said.


The hope is the couple would work with the fire department for a controlled burn of the house, she said.


“So that they’ll essentially turn over a lot to us, and they’ll get a tax credit,” she said.


The cost to the district depends on how much landscaping the couple and the district would do, but the district would look at a not-to-exceed price, she said.


“Over the next year, my hope would be an overall cost to the district of less than $100,000,” she said.


Funding is not decided, but the district is considering a land contract or borrowing money, Carvin said. Pierick also mentioned using fund balance money as an option.


The garage would be moved onto school property for physical education storage, Carvin said. Other changes to the property would include:


-- Removing the walkway that runs along the fence from the Second/Lincoln street intersection to the school parking lot. The fence from the north side of the home’s property would be moved to the south side of the property.


-- Creating a new walkway along the route of the home’s driveway to the parking lot, creating a better drop-off point for students.


-- Creating a new walkway on the north side of the school from First Street through to Second Street, creating a second drop-off point about a block away from the home’s driveway drop-off.


-- Changing crosswalks at the intersection from diagonal to straight across Second Street, and moving stop signs.


“We think that should decrease by about half the number of people dropping off at any one spot,” Carvin said, “and we won’t end up with one of these crazy crosswalks, kiddy-corner across the intersection. It’s just a real nightmare. (If you) need to drop a child off at a sidewalk, when you do that, (it’s) in the middle of the intersection.”


The district has discussed replacing the aging middle school. But regardless of if or when that happens, Carvin said the current building is still a part of the community, and “these changes would benefit future uses.”



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