Sale of farmland long held as school site could net funds for field upgrades
The Port Washington-Saukville School District has received a second offer to purchase 54.4 acres of farmland it has owned for more than 47 years.
The School Board last week met in closed session to consider the offer but took no action other than to direct Supt. Michael Weber and Director of Business Services Jim Froemming to research the offer and report to the board on Feb. 15.
“It’s good news that we have a second offer,” Weber said.
He declined to name the prospective buyer but said the firm has been involved in local developments.
The second offer means there is now competition for the property, which, nestled among subdivisions on Port Washington’s west side, is seen as a prime site for residential development and a potential windfall for the school district.
In September, as the board was preparing to evaluate proposals from real estate brokers, the district received an initial, unsolicited offer for the land that school officials described as attractive.
The board shelved its plans to contract with a broker to market the property and countered the offer, but negotiations have since stalled.
“They have not responded to the board’s counteroffer except to say they are still interested,” Weber said.
North of Grand Avenue and east of Highway LL, the property is flanked by subdivisions on three sides — Spinnaker West to the south, The Woods at White Pine to the west and Lake Ridge to the east — and bordered by farmland to the north.
Proceeds from the sale of the land are to be used to finance capital improvements, and a leading contender is Port Washington High School’s outdoor athletic facilities, officials have said.
In May, a year after the approval of a $49.4 million referendum that reflects the board’s commitment to renovating and expanding its current schools rather than building new ones, officials decided it was time to sell the land the district has long owned.
The district purchased the property, which is comprised of two parcels, in January 1969 from Elmer and Myrtle Bley for $149,944.
Since then it has been seen as a site for a future school, but as the city developed around it and the needs of schools changed, it became a less desirable school site. And with the approval of a referendum that provides $46.5 million to modernize the high school and $3.8 million to expand Dunwiddie Elementary School, officials said it was time put the property on the market.
The pending sale comes at a good time for the district because, while the referendum is financing building improvements, it does not include money for outdoor high school athletic facilities.
Officials envision a fairly sweeping project that would include the replacement of the grass football field with artificial turf, new lighting and sound systems and a press box. The project could be expanded to include artificial turf and other improvements to the baseball diamonds and track and field facilities.