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City of Tiffin offers $20,000 for school property

Public hearing scheduled for Feb. 19 at CCA

By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader
TIFFIN– Residents of the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) school district will have the opportunity to weigh in on the sale of a small portion of the district’s land to the City of Tiffin during a public hearing next month.
For several months, the city has wanted roughly two-tenths of an acre of land at the northwest corner of the high school site in Tiffin. Developer Jim Glasgow plans to put a mixed-use development on 55 acres of land just west of the high school, and the city wants the land for an access road into the development, at the intersection at U.S. Highway 6 and Deer View Road. Initially Tiffin mayor Steve Berner asked for the district to deed over the land as part of a new 28E agreement between the governmental entities.
The CCA school board of directors discussed the proposal at their December meeting, eventually tabling the topic. Board members balked at giving away the district’s land, saying it was bought and paid for by the taxpayers. “I can’t just vote to give that away,” said board member Jim Seelman. “If they want that land from us, then they should tell us how much they’ll give us for that piece of land,” board member Terry Davis said.
The directors’ response struck a nerve with Oxford resident Bill Stockman, who addressed the board members during the community and public forum portion of their January 15 meeting at the high school. “Why is the school board bickering and fighting with the Tiffin City Council?” Stockman asked. He noted that the district may soon be asking the city for infrastructure improvements for a new elementary on the east end of town as well as at the middle school, if voters approve a $48 million bond issue on Tuesday, Feb. 4.
“It would sweeten the pot if they (City of Tiffin) 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. “(The land would) make a safer intersection.”
Stockman also addressed the district’s continuing discussions with the city regarding a potential sidewalk along the south side of Highway 6, and concerns he had with open enrollment. Superintendent Tim Kuehl assured Stockman the district and city were working to resolve the sidewalk issue, which dates back pre-construction of the current high school. Construction of the sidewalk got mired down with city ordinances, delays with the Iowa Department of Transportation and an offer by the City of Tiffin to pay for part of a wider-than-required sidewalk/trail.
Representatives of the district, the school board, Shive-Hattery (the district’s architectural and engineering firm), Hart-Frederick (Tiffin’s engineering firm) and the City of Tiffin met Thursday, Jan. 16, to discuss the sidewalk, among several other topics.
Kuehl also told the board later in the meeting that the city had made an offer of $20,000 for the land. “In order to (accept the offer), we need to set a public hearing,” Kuehl said.
The public hearing will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 19, at the middle school. The regular monthly meeting of the board will follow and is open to the public as well.