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Letter: Don’t Sell the Old Junior High

To the Editor:

When Lebanon residents voted not to appropriate the funds to tear down the old Lebanon Junior High building last March, we were surprised to learn that the School Board’s immediate reaction would be to sell the building and all 7.42 acres of land.

Lebanon voters have another opportunity next Tuesday to ensure the building and property are not sold and that the School Board is forced to consider realistic long-term solutions for this prized asset. A no vote on Article 6 will preserve our opportunity to reconsider the important recreational, educational and aesthetic value of the building and playing fields. Consider:

∎  The fields on this property are used by many groups and are an essential part of the Recreation Department’s programs. While the currently approved purchaser has agreed to allow the city to use the fields, there is no long-term contract that will protect the city’s rights. What happens if the purchaser runs into financial problems? How quickly might this land be put to commercial use for financial gain?

∎  The original deed states the property must be utilized only “for school and playground purposes” or ownership reverts back to the heirs. Is the spirit of the deed being honored?

∎ Why not subdivide the property into two parcels — one for the playing fields and one for the building. The public could then vote whether they wanted to sell either.

∎  The yearly cost to maintain the building is $100,000 — approximately 6 cents for each $100,000 of property valuation. Wouldn’t paying this small amount ultimately prove less expensive than spending millions to purchase another piece of land in the future?

∎  Once this property is sold, the downtown landscape may significantly change, and an incredible asset to this city will be lost forever.

∎  This property was the “key” to the school board’s long-range plan that the voters supported when they approved the construction of the new middle school. However, within days of last year’s vote, and before a new long-range plan was even formulated, the property was put up for sale. This is not the kind of “planning” the public expected.

Vote no on Article 6 and support continued discussions.

Dan McGee

Lebanon