The Waupaca School District has an offer for the purchase of the Waupaca Accelerated Learning Center, and the city of Waupaca wants to make one, too.
“We will do our due diligence and act as quickly as possible. We should give Park and Rec the opportunity to put something forward,” Mayor Brian Smith said during the April 16 meeting of the Common Council.
The city, through its Parks and Recreation Department, will work to see if it can make an offer.
The city has the right of first refusal on the property, which is located on School Street next to the Waupaca Recreation Center.
That option was included in the agreement between the city and school district as part of the sale of the Hendrickson Center.
The city closed on the purchase of the former Hendrickson Center on March 1, 2003.
The building was then remodeled – and a second gym was also built – to turn it into the city’s recreation center.
At the time of the closing, the city paid the school district $50,000 and then paid the district $10,000 annually for four years.
The alternative school was listed at $250,000 when it was put on the market several months ago.
On March 20, School Board President Steve Shambeau signed an offer for the purchase of building, District Administrator David Poeschl said.
The final closing of the sale is pending zoning changes to the property, he said.
City Administrator Henry Veleker said the property is currently zoned single-family residential.
Schools are a conditional use, or special use, within that zoning district, he said.
Veleker said the property would have to be rezoned to a business district to accommodate the sale.
The city would have to amend its zoning code to allow schools to be a special use in that particular business district.
The district’s administrative offices are located next to the property. The city also has a right of first refusal on the administrative offices should the school district ever decide to sell that building.
Veleker said many communities do allow schools in the type of business district zoning being requested.
The city’s property would also have to comply, he said.
RE/MAX Lyons Real Estate is handling the zoning change request for the district and on behalf of the buyer, Poeschl said.
“If he can’t get it zoned commercial, the deal is off,” he said.
If the city can meet the price offered on the property, it would get the property, Poeschl said.
“They have not refused it yet,” he said regarding the city’s right to first refusal. “I’m still waiting on their response.”
Poeschl said it is not spelled out in the agreement with the city when it has to make a decision.
When Ald. Paul Mayou asked during the April 16 council meeting how soon the city has to let the district know, City Attorney John Hart said, “You have to act in good faith.”
“Let’s make it a goal to vote on it the third Tuesday of May,” Smith said.
Parks and Recreation Director Aaron Jenson told the council he was bringing the matter before them because of the alternative school’s proximity to the recreation center and expanded use of the center.
He is also concerned about the 18 parking stalls which go with the building.
“From September through March/April, we have a full parking lot,” Jenson said.
Ald. Steve Hackett said, as a city taxpayer, he feels he already owns part of the alternative school.
Jenson said if the city were able to buy it, the city could rent it to groups or businesses which offer recreation classes.
Prior to being the school district’s alternative learning center, the building was used as a maintenance building.
Before that, it was used for shop classes until there was a fire in the boiler around 2000, after which the building was remodeled.