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Wayzata Schools' land deal now in hands of voters

  • Article by: Shannon Prather
  • Star Tribune
  • September 10, 2013 - 3:00 PM

Voters could undo Wayzata Schools’ $7.4 million land deal to buy part of the Elm Creek Golf Course.

The district could use a buyback provision to return the property to the developer if voters fail to approve a referendum seeking funds for high school expansion on the land, said the district’s finance director. The school board is now discussing a referendum for early 2014.

In July, the district purchased nearly 40 acres of golf course land adjacent to Wayzata High to accommodate a growing student body. The land gives the district room to add on to the high school.

“If the voters do not approve a future bond referendum, the district has the option to sell the land back to the developer,” said Jim Westrum, the district’s finance director. “A school district has to be very prudent in its financial matters, and we wanted to take advantage of the unique opportunity to purchase available land adjacent to our high school.”

The developers say they’d gladly buy the land back.

“We are happy to sell it to them for school district purposes. If they are not using it for school district purposes, we absolutely want the right to develop it,” said Jake Walesch of GWS Development, which plans to build high-end homes on the remaining portion of the golf course.

The district now enrolls about 10,600 students and is projected to grow during the next decade. Grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 each have around 800 students, but seventh- and eighth-grade classes each have about 900 students, Westrum said.

And new housing will mean even more students.

“We have 1,600 homes that we’re aware of that are coming on the market,” Westrum said. “We typically see one school-age child for every two homes built. We see preschool children as well.”

Shannon Prather • 612-673-4804

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