BOE to buy school land

Published 5:45 am Wednesday, August 27, 2008

By By Kerry Whipple Bean – publisher
After years of discussion - and some controversy - about the location of a new middle school, the Brewton City Board of Education is planning to buy more than 100 acres of city-owned property on U.S. 31 North.
Superintendent Lynn Smith delivered a letter to Mayor Ted Jennings Tuesday, formally proposing that the school board buy property near the city water tower at U.S. 31 and Old Castleberry Road for $550,000, and the city council accepted the proposal at its meeting that evening.
After a brief executive session, the board voted unanimously to propose buying the land. The Brewton City Council also held a brief executive session during Tuesday afternoon's council meeting and came back with a unanimous decision to accept the proposal.
The middle school is currently located on Liles Boulevard. Smith said that property is simply too small for a middle school.
Last year, school board members had some discussion about a proposal to buy part of the city-owned Dogwood Hills golf course for the middle school. The board never made a formal proposal after city council members indicated they would not sell the property.
Golf course advocates had been opposed to any sale of Dogwood Hills, arguing the course could not be reconfigured to accommodate a new school.
The U.S. 31 property near the water tower was appraised in two pieces: a 7.6 acre portion was appraised commercially for $174,800, and a 114-acre portion was appraised for $371,800.
The proposal excludes a 10-acre piece of land just north of the water tower.
Smith said the property may seem farther away than he would like, but he expects it to be in a prime location in years to come.
If the school board does buy the property, it will need to be surveyed, but Smith said he believes access to the school would be from U.S. 31, with exits on Old Castleberry Road. The school board would also ask the state for help with a traffic light at the intersection.
Jennings said the Department of Transportation will help with some roadwork in the area to be used to construct the new school.
Other work along Old Castleberry Road is already being planned, Jennings said.