Wahpeton buying Central Elementary land

A sale of the land where Central Elementary stood in Wahpeton is expected to close by Thursday, Oct. 30. The city is paying Wahpeton Public Schools $40,000 and will be responsible for $83,000 in special assessment payments.

Following months on the market, the land where Central Elementary stood in Wahpeton is being purchased by the city.

The sale is expected to close by Thursday, Oct. 30. Wahpeton Public Schools will receive $40,000 for the land. The city will also be responsible for $83,000 in special assessments to be paid on the land.

Members of the Wahpeton Finance, Personnel and Economic Development Committee began reviewing a purchase agreement when they met Monday, Sept. 23. City Attorney Steve Lies drafted the agreement to clearly convey ownership and ensure mutual understanding between buyer and seller.

“We want to enter into this with our eyes wide open,” Finance Director Darcie Huwe said.

Wahpeton Superintendent Rick Jacobson and School Board President Damon DeVillers were unavailable for comment.

Central Elementary was located at 212 Third Ave. N. in Wahpeton. Built in 1929, it was demolished from winter 2016 through spring 2017.

As the sale nears completion, Wahpeton leaders are moving onto the question of what comes next. Mayor Steve Dale and Councilman-at-large Perry Miller agree the land is in a great location. Both said a meeting with realtors, contractors and developers would be beneficial.

“I’m speaking about having a developer that would do the whole block,” Mayor Dale said. “When we start trying to part everything off, we could end up with water and sewer lines in people’s backyards and it’s harder to access them. Having one person with plans for the whole block would make things easier.”

The purchase agreement will be reviewed by Amy Clark, Wahpeton Public Schools’ attorney. Assistant City Attorney Brittany Hatting does not expect the sale would be impeded. Committee members are encouraged to review the agreement prior to the next Wahpeton City Council meeting.

Wahpeton Public Schools rejected a $20,000 verbal offer for the land, Daily News reported in May 2019.

Opening its doors as Central High School, the building received an east wing in 1949. It served as a secondary school until 1964, when classes moved to the present Wahpeton High School.

From 1964-1988, elementary classes were taught in the west wing while junior high classes were taught in the south and east wings. Following the establishment of Wahpeton Middle School, Central was solely an elementary school.

Renovations occurred between 1995-1997, but Central Elementary was considered increasingly dilapidated by 2012.

“The faculty has a laundry list of issues, including an ever-present mildew problem, and houses a considerable bat population,” Daily News previously reported.

Approximately 475 students in grades 1-5 attended Central Elementary during the 2015-2016 school year. Wahpeton Elementary, part of a district-wide education complex, was dedicated in August 2016.

Councilman-at-large Lane Wateland was absent from the committee meeting.

The next Wahpeton City Council meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7 at City Hall, 1900 Fourth St. N. in Wahpeton.

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