November 23, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria district buys 11 more properties

ELYRIA — Elyria Schools spent $1 million to buy 11 more properties Wednesday — bringing the collection of properties the district needs to build a new high school nearer to completion.

But school officials say they’re having a tough time negotiating with eight property owners, and the district may be forced to go to court to get them.

“We’ve negotiated in good faith and treated people fairly,” said Don Boddy, Elyria school board member. “We’re now at the point where some people, for whatever reason, are not negotiating and are not answering our letters.”

With the purchase Wednesday, the district has paid out about $2.2 million for more than 30 properties within the rectangle of Sixth and Seventh streets and West and Middle avenues. There are roughly
50 properties being sought by the district in that area.

In addition to the eight property owners who aren’t negotiating with the school district, there are a few properties to purchase at the northwest corner of Sixth Street and West Avenue, said John Keyse-Walker, the school district’s attorney.

The district budgeted about $3 million to assemble the land needed to build the new high school.

Keyse-Walker said the eight property owners with whom the district is having difficulty aren’t necessarily disagreeing with school officials on a purchase price. Rather, they just aren’t responding to the district’s phone calls, visits or letters, he said.

The school board voted to allow Keyse-Walker to seek other avenues to obtain the properties, including asking a court to step in and determine a fit price for the properties if the owners don’t respond.

Boddy said it may not necessarily come to that point, and he is hoping school officials or Keyse-Walker have some luck contacting the property owners.

“It doesn’t have to go to court, but we have to start doing this now to stick to our timeline,” Boddy said.

Contact Shawn Foucher at 329-7197 or sfoucher@chroniclet.com.