Article Comment Submission Form
|10/16/2013 ||Email this article Print this article |
|Northeast still holds title to Elvira property, looks to divest interest|
By Jeremy Huss
An oversight in the 1998 agreement that transferred property at the former Elvira school to a neighboring landowner means the Northeast Community School District still holds title to two parcels at the site.
The Northeast Community School Board discussed the revelation at an Oct. 9 meeting and reached consensus to transfer title to neighboring property owners who already are using the land, but the board took no formal action on the proposal and agreed to involve the affected landowners in the discussion before making a final decision.
The issue came to the district's attention via county assessor Rollie Ehm, who notified superintendent Jim Cox in September the district still maintained title to two parcels approximately 100 by 18 feet.
Ehm told The Observer the assessor's office became aware of a discrepancy in the ownership while working on the county's geographic information system (GIS).
A Sept. 30 letter from attorney Jerry Van Scoy of Van Scoy and Kross explains the property owned by Northeast appears to have been ommitted from the 1998 transfer that conveyed the former Elvira school site to Richard and Nancy Smith.
While the majority of the land was properly transferred to the Smiths, an 18-foot strip comprising parcels B and C was ommitted from surveys and the legal description used in the title transfer, according to Van Scoy.
The property immediately south of the parcel B is owned by Scott and Karen Mohr, and the property south of parcel C is owned by Gregory Hoover.
Van Scoy said the ownership issue raises the question of why the parcels were excluded from the conveyance to the Smiths in 1998 and whether the parcels should be conveyed to the Smiths or to the Mohrs and Hoover.
Van Scoy noted it appears a portion of the building constructed on the Mohr property encroaches on parcel B to the north.
He laid out three options for the school board:
Convey the property to Mohr and Hoover by quit claim deed. The transfer would be easy to implement, but it assumes the Smiths do not believe they purchased parcels B and C and could set up a future boundary dispute that has the potential to involve the district, Van Scoy wrote.
While the legal description in the property transfer did not include parcels B and C, the legal description used at the public hearing on the proposed sale of real estate extends far enough south to include the land, creating an ambiguity over what the Smiths intended to purchase.
Convey the property to the Smiths by quit claim deed. This also would be easy to implement but again could create a boundary dispute, especially since the conveyance would result in the Mohr building encroaching on the Smith land.
Negotiate a boundary agreement with the other landowners. That option permanently would remove the district from involvement with the real estate, but it may require survey and abstracting work, would be time consuming and expensive and raises the question of who would pay for the work.
"At any rate, I don't think we're interested in these parcels, and I don't think we want to charge these people for use of the land," Northeast superintendent Jim Cox said.
Board president Chuck Corr said transferring the parcels to Mohr and Hoover is the obvious option since they have been using the land, and the Smiths haven't disputed the ownership.
Board member Mary Smith advocated the district initiate a dialogue with the property owners before taking action, and the remainder of the board agreed, noting the situation has existed for years so there's no need to rush to action.
"The general intent is to allow the two homeowners to acquire the leftover 18 feet," Corr said.
"I agree with the plan, but I believe we need to contact them first to have a voice," Smith said.
The board agreed to table the issue and take action at a future date.
Baseball, softball fields progressing
Work on a new baseball field as part of Northeast's facility addition project is progressing, with dirt work to establish the field elevation nearly complete and tiling work scheduled to finish this week, Cox reported.
Work scheduled for next week includes establishing the infield and a warning track, spreading lime and building a pitcher's mound. Lighting will be removed from the old field in the next two weeks and set at the new location in December.
Work to bring the softball field up to elevation also will begin soon.
Board member Rich Krogmann said the building committee has had several meetings and agreed to use the more expensive Shakopee lime for the baseball bield but not for the warning track and other surfaces.
The decision was based primarily on cost, Krogmann said, but officials believe using standard ag lime for the warning track also will create a pleasant color contrast with the grass and the red-tinted Shakopee lime.
No warning track will be built at the softball field.
Irrigation has been installed on the field to ensure a good playing surface in the spring once sod is placed, Krogmann said.
Krogmann said a "huge" retention pond has been built and lots of drainage tile has been used on the baseball field to avoid displacing water to adjacent properties.
"Water will not be an issue coming off that baseball field," he said.
In regard to the gym and classroom addition, Krogmann said work will proceed in the reverse order of the auditorium project, where concrete work took place over the winter.
Instead, steel building construction will be done over the winter and concrete work will wait until the spring, he said.
In related business, the board approved a contract with Kleinschmidt Excavating for site work at a cost of $467,000 and accepted a 15 percent cash bond of $70,050 in lieu of insurance.
The board also approved the first payment to Kleinschmidt in the amount of $176,404.
In other business, the board:
Approved a consent decree for an unidentified student following a closed session to discuss a possible expulsion. Corr said the decree is an agreement with the student and parents that establishes a course of action and stipulations to achieve defined outcomes.
Approved open enrollment into the district for four students, two from Clinton Community Schools and two from Easton Valley Community Schools.
Approved the Future Business Leaders of America overnight trip to Grapevine, Texas, Nov. 7-10 for the National Leadership Conference.
Approved the appointment of Cox and principals Alicia Christiansen and Diane Schumacher to the teacher quality committee.
The Observer • Founded in 1864
“Pledged but to truth, liberty, and law;
no favors win us and no fears shall awe.”
512 Seventh St., PO Box 49, DeWitt, IA 52742 • 563-659-3121
Copyright 2016, DeWitt Observer Publishing Co.
Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved