ST. PETER — Collaborative opportunities, including the city of St. Peter, have led to a new direction for facilities plans in the St. Peter Public School District.
With sights set on putting a $55 million bond referendum before voters in March 2015, the district's initial plan was to build a new $36 million high school on the 85 acres of land it already owns on the west side of St. Peter near Traverse Road. But a land purchase by the city changed the district's plans, said Supt. Jeff Olson.
The city now owns 72 acres on West Broadway near Nicollet Avenue, across from the northern edge of the Gustavus Adolphus College campus. The city plans to use the property for a park and recreation area. The district decided it made the most sense to purchase 60 acres of land abutting the city's acreage to collaborate on a number of aspects of development both the city's and district's projects have in common — building and sharing athletic fields and park spaces, saving money on parking lots and other infrastructure costs, and sharing management and maintenance of the property.
The combined acreage would create a “high school and community park campus,” said middle/high school Principal Paul Peterson, who will replace Olson as superintendent in July. The district and city will work out usage agreements of fields and recreation areas.
The School Board voted Friday to approve a purchase agreement of the 60 acres from land owner Howard Hermel for $9,500 per acre, or a total of $570,000. The closing date would be Dec. 31. (Hermel is now farming the land).
To help make up the cost, the district plans to sell 52-55 acres of the 85-acre parcel by Traverse Road, Olson said. The district will keep the remaining acres for a possible elementary school down the line, as enrollment is projected to keep increasing over time and space issues are the cause of the current building plans.