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Lots of discussion about downtown elementary school site--with more discussion to follow

Posted: Mon, Mar 20, 2017 5:42 PM

Members of the Property Committee of the Decorah City Council have promised they will meet again to discuss whether to sell the softball diamond property to the Decorah School District. 

The committee met for 40 minutes on Monday evening for a wide-ranging discussion--but no conclusions about what to do.

Property Committee chair Steve Luse started the meeting by distributing an 11-point talking points memo reviewing the school district's proposal to buy city-owned property.  He called for a higher price for the softball diamond--$1 million--largely because the estimated cost of building new softball diamonds would be just under $1 million.

Fellow committee member Gary Rustad called the memo "a good starting point," but did not like the suggestion that the city be given West Side School as part of the transaction.  "I'm not sure why the city would want it," said Rustad.  City council member Charles Lore agreed, calling the building "an albatross."

The city council had earlier rejected the school district's proposal to sell it the softball diamond, but Rustad said the public sentiment has shifted to favoring the sale of the property.

But city council member Dan Bellrichard worried that selling the property now could be regretted later.  "This parcel of land could be very valuable to the city down the road," he said.

Bellrichard encouraged the two sides to think of other options, including one that involved additional land swaps.

However, the scheduled 5:45 p.m. Decorah City Council meeting brought the committee meeting to an end, so the Property Committee will have to take up the issue again at a later meeting.