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Woodburn School District looks to buy Lincoln Street property

The Woodburn School Board has voted to move forward with a bid to purchase a piece of property adjacent to Washington Elementary School.by: LINDSAY KEEFER - The Woodburn School District is hoping to purchase this piece of property, located at 845 E. Lincoln St., to create another access point to its existing property on the nearby Washington Elementary School campus.

The property, located at 845 E. Lincoln Street in Woodburn, would be used as another entry point to the Washington campus, which currently extends north toward Hardcastle Avenue. The district is planning to seek a bond in May 2014, and with that money could build another school on that property. In order to meet regulations, though, there would have to be a second access point.

“We’re hoping to expand to a 400-student annex,” said Superintendent Chuck Ransom. “But even for the current campus, two access points could improve the whole campus.”

The property is nearly an acre owned by Wells Fargo Bank and is selling for $125,000. Additionally, the new owner would also take responsibility of a lien totaling more than $27,000, the result of a home equity line of credit on which the previous owners defaulted, according to Ransom.

“We’d be acquiring this at a unique period of time,” said Ransom. “The timing couldn’t be better and the price is right.”

Business Manager Nancy Hall said Wells Fargo stipulated that the first week the property was on the market, no offers could be made. Days eight through 15 would be available for nonprofits, municipal entities and owner-occupied parties to place offers. After 15 days, it would open up to developers.

“Since we fit in that eight-to-15 category, today is the first day we can make an offer,” Hall told the school board at a special meeting on Thursday.

“They’ve had lots of calls from investors but not much from (the first group allowed to make an offer).”

Hall said the money for the property would come from the major maintenance fund, which the district budgeted to have more than $1.2 million for the 2013-14 year.

The property currently has a house that is in poor condition and would likely be removed if the district purchased it.

Board members were positive about moving forward with the purchase because it could increase safety, since there was a suspicion that squatters have occupied the old house near the school.

“My understanding is that has been an abandoned property for quite some time,” said David Vancil, board chairman. “We could purchase it, if nothing else, to rid the neighbors of a nuisance.”

Ransom said that although the district has moved forward to make this purchase, that doesn’t mean the recent negotiations struggle with Woodburn Educators Association has been forgotten.

“We have multiple priorities that have to be dealt with,” he said. “When we had the recession, we took a little bit away from everything… Now we’re trying to put everything back at the same time. Wages and benefits are hugely important, but so is this.”