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Land parcel cost-saving investment for district future

The Dickinson Public School District finalized the purchase of 114 acres of land on the western side of the city in January—land which could serve as a home for future elementary or high school facilities, according to Superintendent Doug Sullivan's State of the Schools speech Tuesday.

It doesn't hurt as well that, according to school district business manager Kent Anderson, the district saved money on the purchase.

"There was a parcel that the school district had been previously interested in that went on sale," Anderson said. "The school district had a purchase agreement on this exact parcel before, but I think it was peak boom (time) and the price was north of $3 million. We ended up getting that same parcel for $1.7 million."

He said that the timing just worked out, though the flipside is that the district now owns the land without any imminent plans to build anything on it.

"What the school board decided and the budget committee discussed was that that would be a good investment considering what happened to land prices last time things got busy," Anderson said. "They were able to get it before it went on the market, which worked out great. So the intent was, we have so many dollars to have invested in capital projects ... so basically it'll sit there and hold for awhile."

School Board President Brent Seaks reiterated the forward-thinking philosophy of the purchase in a phone interview.

"I think it was a good deal," Seaks said. "My understanding was that it was an opportunity ... to fit the future needs of the district well, the administration shared that with us and we agreed."

The 114-acre plot is more than would be needed to build a new school, Anderson said.

"Likely what I anticipate the school would do is, whatever portion of the land was not developed for school uses would be sold, which would be pretty attractive land as well," Anderson said. "That was kind of the concept, that we'd be able to recuperate some of that (price)."

The land parcel is located on 21st street, the same street as the new middle school, and would benefit from the ease of access the larger street provides, Anderson said.

"You have the middle school, then you have North Dakota State University Land, then you have this acreage that the school district just bought and then you have the Sierra Ridge apartments," he said. "It's the same bus route, there's a lot of efficiencies should a school go out there."