Martin Ringstaff, city schools director, said the change comes on the heels of Hyde Property dropping its rights to a potential sale to the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
According to state reports, Georgetown Road will be widened from two lanes to four. TDOT will have to buy the right of way currently owned by Hyde Property to continue construction. Projected costs of the sale range from $50,000 to $100,000.
Early negotiations said city schools would pay $1.1 million for the property and allow Hyde Property to have the sale money.
The city school system’s attorney warned administrators against a contract with strings attached.
“We made a counteroffer which said if the money ever comes then it will go to the school board,” said Ringstaff. “They came back with a $1.15 million counteroffer with the understanding all money from the TDOT would go to the school board.”
A second piece of land off North Lee Highway is also under consideration. The asking price is significantly lower than the Georgetown Road/Highway 60 property at $750,000. Site committee reports said the North Lee Highway property is currently ungraded.
According to Ringstaff, grading the North Lee Highway property placed the final price at $1.3 million.
In addition, the 15 acres of land come with a list of requirements, Ringstaff said.
“When we purchase the land, we do not want any stipulations attached,” Dirksen said.
A critical eye is being given to both properties.
“The city would save about half a million dollars in the long run by going with Georgetown, and it would help us when the Adkisson apartments come in,” Ringstaff said of apartments being built on Adkisson Drive within city limits.
Letters were sent out to both property owners.
Ringstaff said the letters, “... basically say the school board is seriously wanting to go into negotiations as long as there are no ties to the property.”
Murl Dirksen, site committee chair, said forward movement was needed.
Richard Shaw, school board member, questioned what money would be used to pay for the property.
Ringstaff cited the money Bradley County schools owes the city of Cleveland from revenue received from the 2009 half-cent sales tax increase determined by the courts.
“I would ask the City Council to use that money as a good-faith effort because the City Council will have to come up with quite a bit of money for the school building itself,” Ringstaff said.
He added, “The Council individually has not frowned on the idea.”
Numbers of the elementary population moving into the Spring Creek apartments were requested by Dirksen.
Shaw suggested putting together a portfolio comparing both properties.
“... So people know what is going on,” Shaw said.
He also suggested the comparison charts for when the properties in question were presented to the board for a final decision.
“We personally like both pieces of property,” Ringstaff said. “I can even foresee a day when both pieces of property will be needed. The boards will make a decision on what is best for Cleveland City Schools.”