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Mercer Island School District to purchase Stevenson property
A huge announcement was made at the special meeting called by the Mercer Island School District’s Board of Directors on March 1.
After what sounded like months of negotiation, the board authorized superintendent Gary Plano to sign a contract to purchase the Stevenson property, a 4.89-acre parcel south of Island Crest Park, off of Island Crest Way.
Plano will continue negotiations with Redeemer Lutheran Church of Mercer Island for their property, approximately 2.02 acres, which is adjacent to the Stevenson property. The purchase price for the Stevenson property is $5.95 million. Assuming that the district comes to price and terms with Redeemer Lutheran Church, they will have locked up about seven acres for a new Island Park Elementary School.
“This is an incredible achievement,” said board member Brian Emanuels.
Relocating Island Park Elementary School will provide for better school placement and improved traffic flow on Island Crest Way, according to a news release from the district.
The old Island Park building will be used as a swing school, enabling some student offloading during construction of the remaining three schools, should the bond for new schools pass.
These real estate transactions are contingent on the passing of a bond, Plano said.
“The purchase of the land is subject to a vote of the people,” he said.
Lewis Stevenson Sr., who owned the property, died March 16, 2011. The property was passed to his four grown children; there has been much speculation about what would happen to the property given the fact that it is rare to find a five-acre parcel basically untouched on the Island. The Stevenson family has an old home on the property, but for many years it was one of the only places on the Island to board horses.
Pete Hayes, with Coldwell Banker Bain of Bellevue, represents the Stevenson family.
“The big picture is, this is great for schools,” Hayes said. “The site seems to lend itself well (for a school).”
Hayes said the Stevenson family is pleased, happy that they can leave a lasting legacy for their family.
Nancy Comer, of Redmond, one of the Stevenson heirs, said this is very exciting for her and her siblings.
“It was expected,” Comer said. “It’s nice that it’s going to be a public entity.”
After the announcement was made, there was spontaneous applause from those in attendance at the meeting.
The district’s press release states that “the purchase of these properties addresses a critical need for additional land that was confirmed by the 21st Century Facilities Planning Committee. This land purchase increases the public use of property on Mercer Island.”
The board also reversed a decision made in the Feb. 23 meeting regarding the publication of a voters’ pamphlet for the April 17 bond election.
“We have nothing to hide,” said board member Pat Braman. “We’ve never had a voters’ pamphlet for a special election before.”
She said she personally felt there was enough information on the bond through the local news media and email, but clearly, she said, the community wants more.
Board member Adair Dingle said she might have been presumptuous in last week’s meeting, but she, too, was willing to accommodate the public’s desire for a pamphlet.
The cost to produce the pamphlet is $3,000.