City Council members got their first look at plans for the purchase of Broadway Middle School by the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District.
“My hope and desire is to see this piece of property remain in the public ownership,” Mayor Jay Barber said. “I would hate to see commercial development there, even though it would be a wonderful site for that.”
Barber envisioned partnerships to build workforce housing on the U.S. Highway 101 side of the property.
The 5.4-acre property houses the middle school with two gyms, cafeteria, classrooms and kitchen, with four outdoor courtyards, parking lot and the land housing the Seaside Visitors Bureau, Chamber of Commerce building and public restrooms. The city currently holds a long-term lease with the school district to use and maintain the property.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, Skyler Archibald, executive director of the park district, outlined the six years of community engagement leading up to the potential purchase, including a 2014 citizens advisory group, 2017 feasibility study and a 2018 bond to expand the Broadway pool.
When the middle school campus went on the sales market after schools relocated to a new campus on Spruce Drive, the park district renewed interest in expansion.
The Seaside School District negotiated a $2.25 million offer in November. The due-diligence process includes inspections, remediation estimates, public input and financing implications, Archibald said. The due-diligence period ends Dec. 30.
Flex-lease financing rather than a taxpayer bond would be used to fund the purchase. Annual payments would comprise 3.75% of the current park district budget, and that percentage would decline in future years.
“We feel really confident that we can acquire this property and maintain our current or even increase our level of programming to the community,” Archibald said.
The park district will explore revenue strategy, partnerships and a detailed long-term program facility plan.
Councilors showed support for the potential purchase.
City Councilor Dana Phillips said she was impressed with the board’s financing strategy.
City Councilor Tom Horning said the numbers “look very promising for the project as laid out.”
“This is a great turning point for park and rec and the city,” Horning said. “I encourage them to move forward and explore these things with all the participant groups in the community.”