The City of Milton Common Council has directed city staff to prepare a formal “land swap” agreement with the School District of Milton Board of Education and an “intent to purchase” letter. Council voted unanimously on July 16 to advance the proposed land swap process needed to facilitate expansion plans at Milton East Elementary School, 210 North Janesville Street.
Similar discussions were held and approval was given by the school board during its July 15 meeting. Both documents, as drafted by city staff, will be presented at each entity’s next meeting for final approval, City Administrator Al Hulick said.
As outlined in a memo to council from Hulick, the school district is seeking to own 1.4 acres along North Janesville Street within city-owned South Goodrich Park. The city is seeking to acquire through land swap a piece of district-owned land along Municipal Drive as well as a piece along East High Street at the Milton Public Library.
The expansion at Milton East comes as part of the nearly $60 million school district construction referendum package passed by voters in April, Hulick said. While other school district projects will soon come before council, this is the only project that will require land from the city, he said.
Milton East Elementary School Principal Jennifer Cramer and Milton School District Director of Buildings and Grounds Stephen Schantz attended the city council meeting.
Plans for Milton East
In his memo, Hulick wrote that the city had been provided by the school district with a preliminary site plan, which showed that the district’s proposed expansion at Milton East would require the district’s acquisition of land located to the south of the district’s existing building, moving the boundary between city- and district-owned property by 125 feet.
To facilitate the process, both the district and the city had discussed the possibility of a “land swap,” Hulick wrote.
The transfer of land from South Goodrich Park to the district “should not impact any of the existing park amenities,” Hulick wrote. No park alterations would be required to accommodate the expansion, he added.
Identifying the swap as an opportunity to “clean up inconsistencies with ownership,” Hulick said transferring ownership of land along Municipal Drive, including roadway and its corresponding stormwater drainage swale, would place city-owned amenities associated with the area on city-owned land.
The city would also receive a 0.12-acre piece near the Milton Public Library. Currently, a portion of the library parking lot is constructed on land owned by the school district, Hulick said. A “small, grassy area north of the parking lot” which is currently used by the library for events, and which might be incorporated into the library’s Story Book Garden, is also included within the proposed agreement, Hulick wrote in his memo.
The process would also clean up some school district inconsistencies, Hulick said, including the transfer to the district of a piece of what is now city-owned land near the rear entrance of the high school next to Central Park.
The school district would also receive a 0.01-acre strip of land currently under city ownership along the school district’s parking lot to ensure that a stone wall, which was formerly part of the Milton College campus, is preserved on a single parcel rather than distributed across two, Hulick wrote.
Swap at minimal cost
According to Hulick, in terms of any land purchase agreements, no money would change hands. As part of the agreement, the district will pay for all surveying, land divisions and recording costs associated with the transfers.