Saturday, March 15, 2003

2 bids for school property fall short

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

PARK HILLS - The Kenton County School Board opened two bids on the $2 million Kenton Central High School property Friday afternoon, but the high bidder offered less than 20 percent of the property's valuation.

The board will decide Monday night whether it should accept a high bid of $350,000 made by Calvary Chapel of Northern Kentucky. It is less than 20 percent of the $2 million value listed by the Kenton County Property Valuation Administrator in 2002.

The school district ordered an appraisal, but had not received it in time for the bid opening Friday.

Calvary Chapel, which holds a Sunday service in the building, submitted one of two bids. The city of Park Hills made a bid of $10,000.

"This all happened in a very short time period," Park Hills Mayor Mike Hellmann said of the bidding process.

"It would have been nice if we had more time to work on it."

The board voted Feb. 24 to close the school at the end of this school year.

The advertisement for bid was made in a local newspaper of record one time on March 5.

"Once the decision to close the building was made, we decided the best thing to do was start the bidding process," said David Lloyd, facilities systems director for the district. "Every month we hang onto it is more money we're throwing into it."

Lloyd said the annual utility and maintenance costs on the building have averaged $75,000 the last three years.

The board has three options: accept the high bid, reject it and start the bidding process over, or enter into competitive negotiations with Calvary Chapel and Park Hills.

District officials were disappointed that developers hadn't bid on the property in one of Northern Kentucky's better suburbs. Hellmann said that high-end condominiums would be an acceptable use of the site for the city.

"We'll have to see what the appraisal comes back at," said Kelley Gamble, director of finance for the district. "But I would expect the board won't accept $350,000 for it."

Calvary Chapel representatives left quickly after the bid opening without comment.

Kenton Central is one of two schools closed by the board. The other, Visalia Elementary in southern Kenton will not be sold because officials expect to need it as population grows.

According to PVA records, the school board purchased the property for $16,500 in 1957.

The land, 4.5 acres, is valued at $150,000 and is zoned residential. A zone change would have to be made for a church.

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