Hannibal School Board Passes On Land Buy

The Hannibal school district will say “thanks, but no thanks” to an offer to buy a piece of land that’s been an issue for decades.

The Board of Education last week decided to pass on the offer after months of study.

The land in question is a home at 1045 Auburn St.  The home is surrounded by the parking lot and bus loop at the high school.

Someone representing the estate of Mary Blanchard approached the district last fall and offered to sell the home and land for $50,000.  The property is assessed at $47,000.  At the time of the offer, it was under threat of being sold by the county for three years’ worth of unpaid taxes totaling $13,000.

District officials have said over the years that they would like to have that piece of property, the only one that intrudes on the high school’s land, to improve parking or perhaps provide a place for a new bus garage.

The district has a legal agreement with the current owner because the bus loop encroaches on the back edge of 1045 Auburn St.  There is no guarantee that a future owner will allow the encroachment.

District voters rejected buying the land once before.  Board member Fred Patane, not known for his spending sprees, said recently he wished the district had been able to buy the land then.

Though the state of the district’s finances for the upcoming school year was likely to kill any possibility of a purchase this year, the idea died of its own merit.

The final blow came last Wednesday, when the board reviewed estimates for costs above and beyond the cost of buying the land.  Legal fees, insurance, pre-sale assessments and surveys, demolition of the home and the cost of removing the asbestos and lead that district officials suspect is there added up to nearly as much as the cost of the home itself.

“I’m not comfortable with the numbers right now,” said board vice president Matt Henderson.  No one disagreed with him.

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