The Geary County Schools Board of Education met on December 11, 2017, at 5:00 PM for a special meeting to discuss the acquisition of land for the new Junction City High School. Dr. Ferrell Miller, President of the Board, started the meeting by stating the purpose and guidelines. He also made a distinction between this public meeting and a meeting in which the public may offer comment. He clarified that this meeting was dissimilar to the previous Town Hall meetings that were held for the JCHS Way Forward. There was no public comment opportunity during this meeting of the Board.
David Wild, Chief Operations Officer for USD 475 along with Shannon Bohm, President and Troy Hertel, Vice President at Schaefer Johnson Cox and Frey Architecture, Leon Osbourn, President of Kaw Valley Engineering, Inc. and Bill Wilson Gen3 Appraisal Company (local appraiser) were present to discuss 4 parcels of land up for consideration by the Board of Education. The parcels being considered are the Gfeller site, the Horizon site, Munson North, and Munson South each of which was evaluated and scored on various criteria to include site access, utilities, proximity, drainage/flood, grading, visibility, and limitations. The Munson North and South properties scored the highest with 63 and 53.5 respectively (Gfeller scored 47.5 and Horizon scored a 26 despite placing higher in the category of visibility).
David Wild qualified this decision matrix scoring system (dividing a total of 190 total points between the sites) saying that the scores were based on feedback/reports from the architects and engineers (Schaefer Johnson Cox and Frey and Kaw Valley Engineering, Inc.). He went on to say that even with fluctuation or disagreement in the scoring for specific categories, the ranking of properties wouldn’t be likely to change due to the large gap between the first and second property and the third and fourth. He told those in attendance at the Monday night meeting that this was confirmed by the architect as well as the engineer as a check and balance.
“The purpose of this briefing is meant as a framework for discussion” stated Wild at the opening of the meeting.
This is the northern most property with Rucker Road to its north with no major roads or highways. This site contains a homestead. The owner has not shown interest in making a sale of the land.
This property runs adjacent to I-70 with Strauss Blvd. terminating on its eastern boundary. Goose Creek runs from the northwest to southeast on this property and poses a Class A flood zone challenge. This property is the only of the 4 options that according the Wild would “challenge” the budget that was set for the project due to site improvements.
This property has direct access to K-18 and is adjacent to the Junction City Middle School. All utilities are nearby.
This property has direct access to K-18 and is next to the Junction City Middle School property. Utilities are nearby. This site is partially in a flood zone (Class A). This property also contains a flood way which cannot be altered and would been to be worked around according to Osborn of Kaw Valley Engineering. A Flood way controls run-off which would increase due to an increase in asphalt and concrete on the site. This site contains a homestead and the owners have not set a price for the land.
Board Member, Carolyn Gaston asked for clarification on the amount of grading needed to prepare the sites and was told that 3 of the 4 properties have about the same amount of grading needed. Wild told her that the only exception is the Horizon Property. When talking about preparing the land Dr. Anway Khoury asked for clarification on the possibility of moving a gas line on the Munson North Property and he was told by the architects and engineers that there is a possibility of this need, however, this potential cost is within budget allowances for site improvements. Dr. Khoury asked about the safety of placing a school near a gas line of this type. “It is very safe” stated Leon Osborn. Osborn went on to say that gas lines run throughout the city and there are strict regulations regarding construction near or over a gas line.
It was stated throughout the meeting that there has not yet been a design for the building as the design phase has just begun. Architects have, however, begun speaking with Junction City High School staff to get an idea of what would be needed for the new building.
Following the presentation by David Wild, Board of Education members were given the opportunity to ask questions of the architect, engineer, and Mr. Wild. LaDonna Junghans, Board Member, asked about the presence of rock and Osborn deferred to Mr. David Walker (incoming Board Member and quarry subject matter expert) who said that rock shouldn’t be an issue.
Board Member, Tom Brungardt made a motion to move forward with the acquisition of the Munson North Property and it was seconded by Mr. Brian Field. This passed with only one vote against (Dr. Khoury). Following the decision the Board of Education then needed to discuss how to go about acquiring the land, so they asked for potential resolutions to consider. Mr. Mark Edwards, attorney for USD 475, mentioned several options.
Bill Wilson appraised the Munson North Property at approximately $4,125.00 per acre according to the District Legal Counsel, Mark Edwards. Currently, the Munson Property is set at $6,250.00 per acre by the owner. Mr. Edwards spoke to the Board about the possibility of Imminent Domain if the owner could not come to an agreement with the District. Imminent Domain is a legal process to determine fair market value of land that uses several appraisals (3) of the land and a fair price is determined by a judge. This process has been a part of the American legal system since its beginning and is the reason projects such as Milford Lake and road improvements are made possible.
Gaston told the Board that she had concerns of paying for land at a higher than appraised price without knowing why the owner of the land set that higher price. She stated that she didn’t want to pay the higher price.
Mr. Brooks asked of Edwards clarification on the process of Imminent Domain since USD 475 has other potential land options. Edwards stated that he didn’t think the courts would look at this situation any differently because it would be the best site for the school and currently the Munson South Property and Gfeller Property do not have a price (or the owners are not willing to set a price to sell or shown interest in selling). Munson North is the agreed upon best option for the district and it has a price with a voluntary sale Edwards told the Board.
Junghans told the Board that she felt Imminent Domain was the best option because it protected the tax payer and would give the land owner a very fair market value price.
There was a motion to approve a resolution that would give the owner of the Munson North Property the asked for $6,250.00 per acre price. After short discussion the motion failed and another motion was made by Fields to approve Imminent Domain proceedings which provides the land owner a fair price for the land while protecting the best interests of the taxpayer. This second motion was voted on without discussion and the motion carried (5 approving and 2 against).
An additional Board of Education Meeting will be called for Monday, December 18, 2017, following a survey of the Munson North Property by Kaw Valley Engineering.