March 9, 2017
At its regular March meeting the Ellsworth School District Board of Education revisited the topic of the plans for the Prairie View and Lindgren school properties. The board had previously approved the demolition of Prairie View and putting the Lindgren property on the market at the February school board meeting. This topic was brought back to the full board following additional work with a realty agent to place values on the properties. The school board once again voted to demolish the Prairie View school and market the 40 acres adjacent to the building as well as the nine acres the building currently sits on along with marketing the Lindgren site.
Discussion of options for the Prairie View and Lindgren properties have taken place for a number of months through the work of the Elementary Facility Committee. This included a number of meetings to develop options to be presented to the full board based on zoning and possible values of the properties with the assistance of a realty agent. The committee also contacted Trenton Township officials regarding any interest the township may have in the Prairie View building and to hear thoughts about possible uses of the properties.
As emphasized throughout last year’s referendum, funds were included in the referendum dollars for the possible demolition of the elementary buildings so that any demolition did not become an added expense to the district.. This was a concern expressed by many throughout the referendum process. A focus of the school board during this process was to be sure that vacated buildings do not become a burden on area residents or the district as a whole.
The school board had the difficult task of balancing financial considerations and being good stewards of the properties to best ensure the properties remain an asset to the community. A number of years ago, the school district sold the old middle school in the Village of Ellsworth for a very small value to avoid demolition costs. Whether or not that was the right decision has been a topic of conversation since that time.
Ultimately, the board made the difficult decision to demolish Prairie View. The 40 acre school forest site will now be placed on the market for sale as originally planned. The 9 acre site in which the building is currently located will be marketed once the building has been demolished following the opening of the new elementary school. The Lindgren property is seen as a very good commercial property to market at this time due to its location, amenities, and the zoning regulations governing the property.