Doug's Diggings: Where is that next piece of ‘great’ land for a school?I found it interesting — I’m talking about the report from Hoffman LLC, the Appleton architectural firm, detailing all the evils of the land owned by the school district on County UU and Crosby Drive, just west of the Hudson soccer fields.
By: Doug Stohlberg, Hudson Star-Observer
I found it interesting — I’m talking about the report from Hoffman LLC, the Appleton architectural firm, detailing all the evils of the land owned by the school district on County UU and Crosby Drive, just west of the Hudson soccer fields.
Not that the land couldn’t be used for a future high school, but it’s not ideal. In fact, the report included a couple of diagrams showing how a potential high school, and related buildings and fields, could be put on the property.
Site negatives included:
There are a couple of things that should be noted.
First, virtually none of the current administration, or board, had anything to do with purchasing the original land on the site. In fact, the first 23-acre parcel was purchased by the school district in 1959 for $1,589. The final 87 acres were purchased in 2001 for $1,857,500.
Second, back in 2001 the purchase of this land looked like a pretty good deal.
At that time, the district had been on the hunt for a parcel of land for a number of years. When Ron Bernth came to Hudson as superintendent in 1989, land acquisition was on his mind. The district first looked at land directly east of the high school (Jacobson Woods). The land would have allowed the district to acquire enough land to make a big enough footprint for the current high school and related athletic fields, etc.
Lester Jacobson (1905-1992) didn’t want to have any part of selling his remaining land to the school (He did sell the land where the current high school sits). The two sides negotiated for a long time, but could never come to an agreement. When he died, the family eventually sold the land for residential development.
Next the district put its eye on the Edna Atwood property on the southwest corner of Carmichael Road and County UU (south of the government center, north of the golf course). I don’t recall if that was for a potential high school or middle school, but that attempted acquisition turned ugly. After the family turned down the district’s offers, the school district began condemnation proceedings on the property. The family didn’t want any part of accepting the “assessed” value of the property with land prices escalating rapidly in the 1990s. The family fought the acquisition and enough people showed up at a school board meeting to vote down the condemnation process.
Oddly enough, by today’s standards, I don’t think the Atwood property would have been big enough footprint for a high school. The parcel is about 40 acres.
Eventually the district did buy property for the current middle school.
For the district, however, it was back to square one for a potential high school site. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, land prices continued to escalate rapidly and land was selling like hot cakes — at high prices.
Believe me, there were plenty of school people looking for a parcel of land that could be used for a future high school — there wasn’t a lot to choose from.
When the chance came to purchase the 87 acres on County UU it seemed to make sense. The district already owned 23 acres on that location — surely 110 acres would be plenty of land, even with a few hills and valleys. It was not illogical to think that the city would continue to expand eastward and sewer and water might be close to the site once the district got serious about building. After all, the land was less than a mile east of the Atwood property which was considered the ideal location for a school at the time.
The question about purchasing the County UU land was part of a referendum on Oct. 2, 2001. The bigger referendum for $12.2 million included the land purchase. The larger amounts of money went for the remodeling of Willow River Elementary, along with upgrades to other buildings in the district. The referendum passed by an almost 2-1 margin.
So the district now owned land and felt they were secure to address the future needs of building a high school in the future.
Now we find out that the land leaves a lot to be desired as a site for a high school. The next question is pretty obvious — where is that next piece of ideal land?
In looking at the St. Croix County Plat Book it is difficult to find a 100 acre parcel of land that is undeveloped anywhere near the city limits of Hudson.
The best bet appears to be on the north side of Troy, but any land there would have some of the same issues as the current land — inadequate road, no city services. On the flip side, the land is probably flatter on those parcels.
Of course, Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten and school officials may know something that I don’t know — maybe they have their eye on a piece of property for future development. In fact, I hope the district has its eye on a piece of property since we’ve already been told that the current property is inadequate. Like so many situations — we’ll see what develops in the weeks, months and years ahead.
The complete site evaluation report including maps can be seen on the HSD website homepage at www.hudson.k12.wi.us.