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School Board agrees to sell land to local businessmen PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 18:42

Port property purchased by district in 1969 likely to become subdivision

The Port Washington-Saukville School Board on Monday accepted an offer from two local businessmen to purchase 54.5 acres of farmland the district has owned for more than 47 years.
    The district’s agreement with Hillcrest Investments, owned by Randy Buser of Port Washington and his brother-in-law Jeff Mayer of the Town of Grafton, is expected to be finalized early next year. Until then, school officials and Hillcrest representatives have agreed not to divulge details of the sale, which has been the subject of closed-meeting negotiations since January.
    “All the nuts and bolts of this deal have been put together,” Hillcrest Investments attorney Michael Penkwitz said Tuesday. “This is a done deal.”
    Although school officials said they will not disclose the purchase price until the deal is finalized, the sale of the land, which is on the City of Port Washington’s west side north of Grand Avenue and east of Highway LL,  is expected to net the district a handsome sum.
    The district will have to spend the proceeds on capital improvements in order to avoid a decrease in state aid, and although the School Board has not yet earmarked the money, officials have said it could be spent on school improvements not funded by the $49.4 million referendum approved in April 2015.
    Another potential use of the money is a contribution to the sweeping redesign of the Port Washington High School athletic fields, a plan that includes the installation of artificial turf football and baseball fields. School officials, however, have said they hope private donations solicited by the PWSSD Foundation Inc., a recently formed nonprofit organization, will raise most, if not all, of the money for the project.
    Although the district purchased the land and has held onto it as a future school site for nearly five decades, it has come to be seen as a marginal location for a school and an ideal site for residential development, with city infrastructure — water and sewer service, streets and sidewalks — abutting the property on three sides.
    In addition, the land, which the district has leased for agricultural use for years, is flanked by subdivisions on three sides — Spinnaker West to the south, The Woods of White Pine to the west and Lake Ridge to the east.
    Buser declined to comment on specific plans for the property but acknowledged it will be some sort of residential development.
    Following the approval of the referendum, which financed the expansion of Dunwiddie Elementary School and the ongoing  renovation and construction at Port Washington High School, the board decided there was no longer a reason to hang onto the  54.5 acres.
    Small by contemporary high school standards, the property is better suited to a residential development that would put the land on the tax rolls and hopefully provide homes for families with children to boost the district’s enrollment, officials said.
    The school district purchased the property, which is comprised of two parcels, in January 1969 from Elmer and Myrtle Bley for $149,944.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 September 2017 18:43