No deal. New deal.
In a surprising twist the Susquehanna County Recreational Center has withdrawn its agreement to purchase land from the Mountain View School District to construct a community-based multipurpose facility on district property.
Board Director Ashley Kilmer said that while waiting for a court hearing about the land purchase another entity approached the SCRC Board about a tract of land on which the facility could be built.
Preferring not to reveal the exact location or property owner that offered the land, Kilmer stated that a formal announcement would be coming within the next couple weeks upon finalization of the deal.
Kilmer stated that the SCRC Board decided to pursue the other location after a June 24 court date to uphold the Mountain View agreement was cancelled.
“It just got super complicated with the school district,” said Kilmer. “The threat of continued legal action against the sale jeopardized our ability to meet certain deadlines to attain our funding.”
Kilmer indicated that having the SCRC deal with an individual property owner rather than a government body simplified things. In addition, she added that Sports Field Advisory, the SCRC Board’s consultant, indicated that research showed the proposed new site to be a more beneficial location.
“We go to someone who can answer our questions immediately,” noted Kilmer. “This should be able to expedite the (building) process in some ways.”
The SCRC’s decision was met with shock and disappointment by Mountain View.
“We were surprised and obviously disappointed,” said Mountain View Board President Jason Richmond. “Especially with the amount of work involved and effort that the (Mountain View School District) Board and administration put into supporting this.”
At a school board meeting held Monday, Aug. 22, the board approved rescinding the previously granted motion to sell and transfer unused and unnecessary real estate to the Susquehanna County Recreation Center, due to notice from SCRC of its decision to forego the purchase of said real estate.
After a June 24 hearing regarding the sale in the Court of Common Pleas was postponed, the Mountain View Board amended their position and in a unanimous vote moved to make a direct sale of the property to the SCRC at a price of $50,000.
Richmond said that the Board felt this would move the process along and allow the SCRC to meet parameters to which they were beholden due to their source of funding.
However, Kilmer stated that after the postponement of the court date, members of the SCRC Board wanted to review all of the land options and the potential site moved to the forefront.
There were concerns about the water and septic hookup on the Mountain View property that still had to be negotiated which concerned some SCRC Board members, according to Kilmer.
Despite the disappointment of the SCRC’s decision, Richmond reiterated that both personally and as a board, Mountain View remains supportive of the SCRC project.
“We still support their mission and idea,” said Richmond. “I believe this is a great thing for the community.”
Kilmer did state that she did not want to undervalue the time and support of the majority of the Mountain View Board that was in support of the project.
“I don’t want to discredit a faction of the (Mountain View) Board that was behind this project and supportive of making it happen,” said Kilmer.
One drawback for Mountain View is that the possibility of the proposed center tying into the school’s septic system – which is generally runs underused during the summer months – and helping to pay for a new water well.
“We had hoped that with the Rec Center (the school district) wouldn’t have to bear the costs alone, and that we could maintain our septic more efficiently,” added Richmond.
Richmond did express that, fortunately, the SCRC’s removal has not jeopardized a potential natural gas line to the school to replace the current heating system.
“We are still working on the details, but even though the SCRC pulled out there is still potential to have a gas line to the school to replace our wood burner system,” said Richmond.