School space a purchase away

School board approves five-acre purchase for expansion and option to buy 25 acres for sports

December 17, 2005

The Hood River County School District Board of Directors approved the purchase of the Baker property, five acres adjacent to the east of the existing school property in Cascade Locks, as well as an option to purchase 25.12 acres from the Asai families. This land is located south and east of Belmont and Alameda roads.

“Both properties provide land in excellent locations for reasonable prices,” said Board Chair Jan Veldhuisen Virk. “The district searched for two and a half years and discussed many pieces of properties before selecting these. We wanted to find good values for our tax dollars, and purchase land while it was still available.”

The school district is purchasing the land for current and anticipated needs for added educational space; both facilities and sports fields.

Portable classrooms are being added this year at Hood River Valley High School and Westside and May Street elementary schools because additional classroom space is needed right now.

The Westside area property can be used for sports fields under current zoning, if the district needs to build more classrooms and facilities on current school grounds. If the property is incorporated into the Urban Growth Boundary, the changed zoning would permit construction of school buildings.

The district will immediately negotiate for a one-year option to purchase the Asai property, subject to surveys and studies of the geology, soils, access, and BPA approval for uses near their easement on the property. Final purchase will depend on all of these studies producing acceptable results.

The district will also complete a Facilities Study, detailing the projected needs for school construction and whether building on existing properties or on separate lots is desirable.

The Cascade Locks property is adjacent to the existing school property and would accommodate construction of additional classrooms if needed.

“Added parking space is needed right now,” notes Principal Chris Daniels.

The board authorized the purchase of the Baker property in Cascade Locks as soon as the property can be partitioned.

The Land Acquisition Fund of $1 million will be used for the option, purchase, facilities study and site studies. Amounts exceeding the fund will be borrowed, to be repaid when a Construction Bond Levy is approved by voters in the future. The purchase price of the five acres in Cascade Locks is $225,000; the Asai land is $70,000 per acre.

Even though school district enrollment has declined slightly this school year, over the past 20 years enrollment has increased about 50 students per year, or two classrooms’ worth each year. The district last added classrooms in 2002.

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