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District to buy Bailey land for school

More than a year of negotiations has resulted in a deal for South Washington County Schools to purchase Bailey Nurseries land for the new Oltman Middle School.

School District 833 will acquire 57.14 acres in northwest Cottage Grove from Bailey Nurseries for about $5.14 million. South Washington County School Board members approved the purchase in late May.

The agricultural land is on the south side of 65th Street east of Geneva Avenue and west of Wildflower Drive, near where areas of Woodbury, Newport, St. Paul Park and Cottage Grove meet.

"It's an ideal site from the perspective of being able to incorporate all of our communities into the future attendance boundary of that school," said Mike Vogel, assistant to the superintendent for operations.

Topography of the site lends itself to the project, said Paul Youngquist of ARY Architects, which is designing the building. The building will be on higher ground while athletic fields will be lower ground.

Land acquisition will be paid for through the voter-approved bond measure passed last November. That $96 million referendum also will fund construction of the new middle school and upgrades to Woodbury, Cottage Grove and Lake middle schools.

Board members got their first look at a proposed floor plan for the two-story building, as well as the planned improvements to the other middle schools.

Improvements to Lake and Cottage Grove middle schools are expected to be complete in time for the 2017-18 school year. The new Oltman building, as well as the Woodbury Middle School improvements, should be done by the start of the 2018-19 school year.

The aging Oltman Middle School in St. Paul Park will be renovated and become home of the district's Nuevas Fronteras Spanish Immersion School.

School Board Chairman Ron Kath credited Vogel with leading the district's effort to acquire the land for the new Oltman.

The actual closing will take place in 30 to 60 days, Vogel said May 25.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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