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School district purchases land next to OC High School

Oregon City School Board members voted last week to purchase a 10.5-acre property adjacent to Oregon City High School, Clackamas Community College and an undeveloped city park.

School district officials will finance the $1.69 million required to purchase the property located near Glen Oak Road because of its long-term strategic value to the district. Depending on future needs, the site could eventually house an elementary school or bus barn.

District financing staff recommended a 10-year loan with a $198,149 average annual payment. Damascus homebuilders Timothy and Patricia Kotz, along with Joseph and Penny Spaziani, purchased the property in 2000 for $400,000.

In the current “buyer’s market” for real estate, district officials noted they got a particularly good deal for taxpayers by moving forward with the purchase on Oct. 29. Until proceeds from other property sales can be used to pay off the loan, the district plans to make debt payments using proceeds from construction excise taxes dedicated by state law to capital needs.

On Oct. 8, the School Board agreed to put on the market three district-owned vacant lots near the Jackson Campus, the old location of OCHS on 12th Street.

Although no general funds will be used for the purchase near OCHS’s current campus, parents worried that the district was taking an unnecessary risk in purchasing extra property. Superintendent Larry Didway acknowledged that closures of Mt. Pleasant and King elementary schools over the summer added to the district’s list of vacant property holdings, but these non-school properties are in the wrong parts of the city.

“It’s very counterintuitive following the closure of school buildings to purchase land,” Didway said. “But the real motivator here is that the board spent time developing annual goals, and as part of their goal-making process they want to pay attention to stewardship of resources and looking to the future growth.”

Oregon City’s Beavercreek concept plan will inevitably come to fruition, Didway said, so the district will need to manage growth in the area that the city has been trying to annex.

“Knowing that they had property of significant value but not of strategic value, and at the same time they had this property that was on the market where we’ve already paid for all of the development costs, it really capitalized on the investments there,” Didway said.

One possibility is a future home for the bus barn located near the intersection of Beavercreek Road and Highway 213.

“We know that the district will either have to redevelop that transportation facility or relocate it,” Didway said.

Correction

Staff parking is an issue for the Oregon City School District with its lease running out on a church parking lot, but the problem will not be solved through the recent property purchase. An earlier version of this online story incorrectly included parking among the list of possibilities that the School Board is considering for the property purchased next to the high school. We apologize for the error.




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