New property, multiple schools?

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COEUR d’ALENE — The acquisition of 40 acres of land on Huetter Road for future school buildings is still in the works, said Coeur d’Alene School District Superintendent Steve Cook on Monday night.

He told the board of trustees the state has approved the boundary change that brought the land into the school district, but the state’s tax commission still has to give the district a letter authorizing the district to tax the land. Once that letter is received, the land will have been appropriately annexed into the district, said Cook.

The site is located just east of Huetter Road, about midway between Prairie and Hayden avenues on the Rathdrum Prairie.

The district administration had previously recommended purchase of the property — provided it was appropriately annexed, it passed the district’s due diligence, and that the property appraised at or above the value recommended, said Cook.

Board member Lisa May asked Cook if development costs for the property were reasonable. Cook explained that a lot of development is taking place in the area surrounding the property, which means that the school district would not bear the full cost of bringing infrastructure to it.

“I’d like to strongly remind the board that this isn’t necessarily a location that is prepped to build immediately,” Cook said, adding it is being recommended as a land bank for years down the road.

New board member Jennifer Brumley asked what kind of buildings 40 acres could support. According to Cook, all of the Coeur d’Alene High School property and fields make up approximately 24 acres, so the 40-acre property is a “large enough space that you’d have a lot of flexibility to build in a fashion that best suits the needs of the district.” That could mean building a high school, middle school, and elementary school on the site or some other combination of school buildings, Cook said. “That’s why this piece of ground is so intriguing for the district.”

Board member Tom Hearn said he was excited about the property. “It’s been a long road to get here. Forty acres really meets our district’s property needs for a decade.”

Much work remains to determine how to best use it, and to prepare it for construction, said Hearn. Nonetheless, given its location in the northwestern part of the district and the budding development around the property, “the idea of having a land bank after all the drama of the past few years” was welcome news, he explained.

Cook reiterated that finance director Katie Ebner had previously informed the board that the district had the extra $200,000 in its capital budget that it would need to pay for the $1.2 million property. The district had previously only budgeted $1 million for the land purchase, he said.

Cook said the district is under contract for the property. He recommended asking the public for comment prior to the next board meeting, scheduled for Thursday at 1 p.m. To comment, call 208-664-8241, email ltowne@cdaschools.org, or go to cdaschools.org.

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