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updated: 2/24/2011 6:29 PM

District 47 moves toward one site for buses, supplies

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Vacant land near the Pingree Road train station in Crystal Lake could become a storage warehouse and garage for Crystal Lake Elementary District 47.

The district on Tuesday approved a tentative contract to buy the nine-acre site on the northeast side of the city to consolidate two sites the district currently leases to house its print center, supplies and textbooks, and another for school buses and vehicle maintenance vehicles.

Officials now await necessary land use hearings from the business development center and zoning approval from Crystal Lake to finalize the sale of the land. The district would not disclose the purchase price, citing ongoing negotiations. Zoning decisions are expected within the next 180 days.

Susan Harkin, the district's chief financial officer, said the district has been considering the venture for the past four years. The district will use funds from Build America Bonds and has budgeted $4.5 million for land acquisition and construction of a 50,000-square-foot facility.

"The land purchase will allow us to consolidate our currently leased facilities into one location which will ultimately save the District dollars in the long run," Harkin said.

Given the current financial markets, Harkin said the district's bond repayment would mirror what it is currently paying to lease two locations.

"The lease on the maintenance building is up for renewal and the district decided to pursue owning versus leasing it," Harkin said. "It will be cost-neutral, but once it is paid we will own it."

An earlier attempt to consolidate the two buildings was thwarted in October after the project was over-budgeted, Harkin said. In addition, residents turned up en masse to preliminary zoning hearings to oppose the district buying a building on Erick Street in Crystal Lake. Residents said they were concerned with traffic, fumes and the affects on property values.

Harkin said the district would bypass those concerns with the new site as it is located in a business park rather than a residential area.