Intent on improving safety on Daly Avenue, the Hamilton School District last week purchased a lot off Kurtz Lane adjacent to Daly School.
Following a unanimous vote by the Hamilton School Board, the sale was finalized on Wednesday, with the district paying $140,000 for the property.
"The (City of Hamilton) put us on notice that we'd have to do something about the traffic here on Daly," Santee said.
On a given school day morning or afternoon, cars line up on Daly Avenue as parents drop off and pick up their children.
The subsequent bottleneck means that parents let children out and pick them up from the street, which results in children mixing with traffic, Santee said. The traffic jams also prevent a clear lane for emergency vehicles.
"So, it's safety concern," Santee said.
But without a clean path through to Kurtz Lane, the district didn't have many workable options for keeping traffic out of the street. The only possible scenarios involved putting a road through the soccer fields that take up the north portion of the Daly School campus, Santee said.
So when one of the houses to the east of the school went on the market last spring, Santee approached the board about making an offer.
The two-bedroom home had an asking price of $170,000, Superintendent Duby Santee said, and the original offer of $139,000 was rejected by the homeowners.
But Santee said the board wrote that amount into the district's transportation budget just in case circumstances changed.
An appraisal came in at $140,000, the district matched that number and eventually a deal was reached.
As to the house that currently sits on the property, Santee said it will have to come down.
Santee said he'd inquired with a house-moving company, but learned that they didn't think the older home was a viable candidate for moving.
The district will work to salvage what valuable items can be saved, he added.
The money for the purchase comes out of the transportation budget, so it won't affect the general fund, Santee said. The district was able to shift some of the taxes it collects to that particular fund without negatively impacting the overall tax picture.
"In fact, the overall tax burden has been decreasing," Santee said, citing the lessening debt service obligations on the district's new high school building as one example.
The total property tax rate for Hamilton homeowners has declined from 195 mills in 2006-07 to 168 mills in 2010-11.
The owner of a $100,000 home will end up contributing $5 for the district's purchase of the property, Santee said.
In the end, Santee said the board supported making the purchase.
"If we don't take advantage of this opportunity right now to solve this safety issue we've had for years and years and years, it may not come around again," Santee said.
The district will hold a series of scoping meetings to discuss and take comment on designing a new traffic pattern that allows parents to drive onto campus from one road, drop their children off on school property, then exit via the other road, Santee said.
No date has been set for those meetings.
Reporter Sepp Jannotta can be reached at email@example.com.