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Bemidji School District: School Board approves purchase agreement of 10 acres

Students at Horace May Elementary School could have 10 more acres to play on.

The Bemidji School District's Board of Education approved a purchase agreement Monday for 9.88 acres located directly south of the school's property.

According to Chris Leinen, the district's director of business services, the district had been negotiating the sale of the property with landowner Michael Christiansen for several months before reaching an agreement.

The purchase price of the lot is $74,100. The parcel is approximately 350 feet wide and 1,320 feet long.

With the Minnesota Department of Transportation turning U.S. Highway 71 into a four-lane highway this summer, the school will lose some of its parking lot and its access road will be moved from the construction.

"We negotiated with the department to rebuild the damaged portions of the parking lot and they will write us a check," Leinen said. "But it's up to us to find the location where we will rebuild it."

Acquiring land to the south, rather than to the west, is beneficial to the school district, Leinen said, since Horace May preferred to preserve its soccer field/play area to the west of the school.

"Mr. Christiansen was willing to sell a parcel of his land," Leinen said. "I think it was a fair price. The land is unique. It is immediately adjacent to the property so it is particularly valuable in that sense. We feel we got a good deal. He's happy as well."

In December, the school board approved a settlement offer by the MnDOT to pay $161,050 for damages related to the acquisition of property for the improvement of the highway.

MnDOT's proposed access road to Horace May from the four-lane highway involves two entry points and one exit-only point along a new frontage road. One of the entry points will be where the current bus entrance is and the other will be at the south corner of the property. The existing car entrance will be removed.