New Paltz School District
Seeks Voter Approval for Land Purchase
Vote Date: Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The New Paltz Board of Education is holding a special vote on Tuesday, April 10th, regarding the purchase of land at 301 Route 32 South, adjacent to the Lenape Elementary School. The board finalized their decision to move forward with the vote at a public meeting on March 14th after reviewing results of a community survey, receiving input from community members and considering all of the circumstances regarding the purchase. Since other bidders are interested in the property, the board needs to act quickly.
The plot of land measures 22.4 acres and contains a residential home, detached garage, barn, pool and pool house. The board plans to subdivide the property following the purchase, retaining acreage adjacent to the school and divesting itself of the residential property and outbuildings. This reduces the net cost to taxpayers while providing the district with highly usable space.
According to Maria Rice, superintendent of schools, the additional acreage offers four distinct opportunities to the district. Lenape Elementary School happens to be in a cul-de-sac with a single route for entry and departure to the building, which presents a safety challenge, particularly in the event of emergencies. Secondly, the district is experiencing significant shortage of field space for athletics, both for district programs as well as for community programs. Thirdly, some of the newly acquired acreage could be designated for additional parking for both Lenape Elementary School and the new fields. Lastly, having the additional acreage provides greater flexibility for possible long-term expansion at the site. (NYS Education Department requires minimal square footage-to-acreage ratios for expansions/new construction.)
Voters will find TWO propositions on the ballot on April 10th. The board is seeking to purchase the land with funds from the Capital Reserve Fund. Currently, the Capital Reserve Fund is limited to expenditures for improvements and renovations to existing buildings. The first proposition asks for approval to expand the use of the Capital Reserve Fund to include land purchases. The second proposition asks for approval to expend the $798,000 from the Capital Reserve Fund for the purchase.
Part of these funds will be returned to the district upon subdivision of the property and sale of the home and outbuildings. The net impact to the tax rate will be limited to the percentage of the property tax that will come off of the tax rolls once the district retains its final portion. The current full tax assessment on the property is $18,240 per year.
Despite the recent and continuing economic climate, the unexpected opportunity of the plot becoming available together with reductions in real estate values and the advantages to purchasing the land contributed to the board’s decision for the April 10thvote.