Our View: Dog track looks like a good site for schoolOpinion
Now that we know the School District of Hudson is interested in purchasing the 126-acre site of the now-vacant St. Croix Meadows Dog Track, there are a few things to consider — or for the school board to consider. First and foremost, is convincing the voters that there is a need for the land.
By: Editorial staff, Hudson Star-Observer
Now that we know the School District of Hudson is interested in purchasing the 126-acre site of the now-vacant St. Croix Meadows Dog Track, there are a few things to consider — or for the school board to consider. After all, the district will have to earn approval from the voters in a referendum.
First and foremost, is convincing the voters that there is a need for the land.
As many of us know, the district owns 110 acres about one-half mile east of the Hudson City limits in the town of Hudson (County UU and Crosby Drive, just west of the Hudson soccer fields).
It includes a 23-acre parcel purchased by the school district in 1959 for $1,589, and 87 acres purchased in 2001 for $1,857,500.
The board heard a report from Hoffman LLC, the Appleton architectural firm that designed and built River Crest, about the property. In its report, released early this year, the firm found the site to be less than desirable for a new secondary school.
Among the negatives were:
According to the report, “steep slopes, isolated/inaccessible area, and setback and buffer areas are estimated to render 40-50 acres of the site as unusable, or impractical for this type of development.”
The board has to convince the voters of the need for another land purchase.
Second, and maybe the larger issue, is there a need for a new secondary school? According to school officials, the answer seems to be “yes.” Both the middle school and high school are at, or above, capacity. Despite the current slow economy, the Hudson School District continues to grow. If traditional education methods continue into the future, the day for a new school seems to be inevitable.
The third, and deciding action, is the vote of the citizens. The land can look exceptional; the need for a new building can be great — but the voters have the ultimate say. They will decide if the land purchase makes sense and ultimately if a school should be constructed.
As far as the dog track is concerned, most would agree that it would be a great location for a school. About the only negative is removing the property from the tax rolls.
The dog track site, however, fits the 100-plus acre benchmark that has been established for a secondary school. 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 track is within the city limits!
The track would eliminate all the concerns with the property the district owns east of Hudson. Being in the city limits, the track site fits the criteria of having all utilities in place (sewer, water, etc.), it sits on a four-lane road and the land is essentially flat.
That being said, Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten was questioned earlier this year about the dog track being a potential school site. Not admitting to any interest in the property at that time, she said the structure (grandstand) on the site would not be suitable for a school. She said “only the façade and stairwells could be salvaged.” Purchasing the track is essentially a land purchase — not a building purchase.
The school board, of course, will bring the land purchase questions to the voters soon. It will then be up to the citizens to determine whether or not this all makes sense.