The press release below was sent out yesterday is interesting because it directly refutes some of the comments made by Superintendent Munoz. The press release does not answer the question of why the public is just learning about the offer now. From a City standpoint, this information appears to have been deliberately withheld from us.
At this point we don’t know who made the decision to withhold this offer of free land from the public and the City. Did this decision come from the School Board or did it come from the Superintendent? We don’t even know if the Superintendent informed School Board when he was offered up to 40 acres of land. School Board members are free to answer that question if they are willing. We know that the offer was for more land than the Superintendent let on even this week.
Irrespective of what happened in the past, City staff can now analyze this site against the City Comprehensive Plan, Utility availability, Existing Infrastructure & Transit, Projected Growth and Minnesota Department of Education site guidelines. I also have a question into our team, as it appears that the joint analysis had recommended this site as the top site for consideration. When this happened the School District knew they have been offered this very same land for free, but did not share that information with the City.
This is an important discussion because the relative difference taxpayer costs for the SW site relative to this site may be well into the 10s of millions of dollars. It would have been a damn shame if we went that direction while one party was withholding valuable information. The next big milestone will be in Late February when the council will review the 75-100 year sewer availability plan. This will give us a feel for how much a SW school and the 2 mile radius surrounding development would cost.
Another interesting side note; the person willing to donate the land has been before the council several times. I think I voted against his wishes every time. I guess I appreciate that he still likes Rochester.
In the interest of ensuring that our offer of free land for Rochester Public Schools is accurately reported on, we want to provide a few details on the proposed donation of 40 acres to the School in Northwest Rochester. The landowner is Mark Kramer of New Hampton, Iowa. Mark is a Rochester developer/owner/operator. This proposed ground sits between 50th and 60th Avenue NW and Valleyhigh Drive NW.
Mr. Kramer spoke with Superintendent Michael Munoz on October 3rd, 2019, via a phone call regarding the donation. The original offer was to donate 20 – 40 acres dependent on the district’s needs. It was soon stated by the Superintendent that 20 acres was not enough, and Mr. Kramer agreed to donate up to 40 acres as needed. The portion of ground that is offered to the Rochester Public Schools is the land most readily available with utilities for sewer and water, with the goal in mind that they would be able to start building the school as soon as possible.