By Jennifer Hoegg
It’s a deal.
Kentville will be taking back the former Kings County Academy school property.
Council voted unanimously July 30 to have the 7.12-acre site and two buildings reconveyed to the town from the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board.
The board was obligated to offer the School Street property back to the town, but Kentville was able to choose whether to take it on or not after the buildings were declared surplus in March.
However, Kentville wants a bit more than the board is offering. The motion passed at council said the town would like to purchase part of the school board’s second piece of property at the site, a roughly four-acre portion that houses a maintenance facility and a play area.
Mayor Dave Corkum said discussions with the school board have taken place on the issue.
“It has to be a process as far as that additional land goes,” Corkum said.
Stuart Jamieson, the board’s director of finance and operations, “has no problem with us taking over the land, but he wants a formal request from the town because the Minister of Education would have to approve it,” Corkum added.
Chief administrative officer Mark Phillips said, if council made the offer contingent on receiving the additional land, the town would not get the property.
“We can hope that is part of the package, but is not part of what they offered,” he said. “If your decision hinges on them giving you an additional two acres of the four acres, then your answer will be no. They are looking for an answer for tomorrow: July 31.”
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Deputy Mayor Mark Pearl and Coun. Nola Folker-Hill expressed concerns land Kentville had conveyed to the board was not coming back to the town.
“I’m not convinced the school board is playing fair with the residents and the town of Kentville,” Pearl said. “They want to keep (the maintenance property) even though they have no need of a sizable amount of the space. It will hinder development. If we could redevelop the site, it could be a good investment.”
Phillips pointed out the second property was not part of the original school site given to the board by Kentville.
“They actually purchased that lower portion of land,” Phillips said. “They are in fact offering what we did originally give to them.”
Pearl said he didn't believe that distinction was relevant.
“It is still part of the school property and was used for school purposes for a playground for the kids,” Pearl replied.
During discussion, Phillips was asked what the timeline would be for taking on the site and whether contingency plans were in place for paying for security and insurance.
“On or before Aug. 31 was a condition of their offer,” Phillips replied. He added short-term costs involved with owning the property were unbudgeted, but affordable.
“In the short term, yes we would be operationally prepared to do what we need to do.”