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CCA approves land sale to Tiffin for access road

By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader

TIFFIN–The Clear Creek Amana (CCA) school board of directors unanimously approved selling a parcel of land to the City of Tiffin.
The property is needed for an access road into the future Deerview subdivision just west of the high school.
The board met Wednesday night, Feb. 19, and held a public hearing on the latest proposal prior to its vote.
Tiffin Mayor Steve Berner initially approached the board in October 2013 asking the district to deed over, or transfer at no cost, two-tenths of an acre of land at the northwest corner of the district’s property. The city wanted the land in order to build an east end access into the new development, which will consist of a mix of residential and commercial properties.
In December, the board decided to table the proposal after much discussion, including a comment by board member Eileen Schmidt that she had a problem with just giving away land paid for by the taxpayers of the district. “That is our taxpayers’ money, and it’s going to be handed over to somebody else. That’s wrong,” Schmidt said.
“I can’t just vote to give that away,” said board member Jim Seelman.
“If they want that land from us, then they should come to us to tell us how much they’ll give us for that piece of land,” board member Terry Davis said. The board then made a motion to table the issue until January.
At the Jan. 15 meeting, Oxford resident Bill Stockman expressed his disappointment and dismay at what appeared to be an impasse between the city and the school district.
“Why is the school board bickering and fighting with the Tiffin City Council?” Stockman asked, adding that the district would likely be asking for cooperation from the city toward infrastructure improvements at the proposed new elementary school site on the east side of Tiffin at the intersection of Highway 6 and Jasper Avenue.
“It would sweeten the pot if (the city) got what they needed, and Lord knows, you’re not going to stick anything in two-tenths of an acre that close to the road.” Stockman said, adding the land would make a safer intersection.
Stockman also spoke at the Feb. 19 public hearing, stating he felt the $20,000 the city is offering for the land is a fair offer.
“The two-tenths of an acre is not much of a value to the district,” he said. “My big concern is, I think (the city of) Tiffin could make it tough on the new school. I think the consequences of not going along with this (deal) could hurt the new school. I’d like to see cooperation between the Tiffin council and the Clear Creek school board.”
Stockman was the only member of the public to address the board about the proposal.
Board member Jim Seelman clarified with superintendent Tim Kuehl, district construction manager Ray Willoughby and Shive-Hattery’s Keith Johnk that the area in question will not impact the geothermal field for the high school.
Kuehl and Willoughby reassured the board that it would not.
“It clears the geothermal and shouldn’t have any effect,” Willoughby said. He also emphasized the district is not granting the city or the developer a construction easement for the subdivision project.

Calendar work
In other business, Kuehl reported he was working on the 2014-2015 academic calendar based in large part on feedback from a number of sources both within the schools and from the public at-large.
“There is a lot of passion and a huge variance in what people think is the best,” said Kuehl.
Kuehl indicated many people would like to start the school year later, have a long holiday break, a spring break and end early; however, Kuehl added with a laugh, “Those things just don’t work.” Rather, arranging the calendar is a balancing act between the feedback received and what is best for the students. The board will likely have a draft calendar to consider at its March meeting.
The board will meet in a work session followed by the regular monthly business meeting on Wednesday, March 12, at Amana Elementary. The work session is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. with the regular meeting at 7 p.m. Both meetings are open to the public.