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Holy Trinity seeks to purchase Phillips

Parish makes proposal, which is under consideration by school district; Public hearing yet to be scheduled

September 13, 2012
By BRANDON L. SUMMERS ( , Messenger News

Holy Trinity Parish is set to buy the soon-to-be-defunct Phillips Middle School.

However, two public hearings are required before a purchase may take place.

Neither hearing has yet been scheduled, said Doug Van Zyl, superintendent of the Fort Dodge Community School District.

Van Zyl confirmed Holy Trinity Parish has approached the district about making the purchase.

"My understanding is they've had meetings with their parishioners," he said. "We have been contacted by the parish as far as their interest in our property. And I do know they've been trying to work out details with us."

Acquiring Phillips would allow space at the St. Edmond Catholic Schools property to be used to build a new church that would supersede the five present worship sites of Holy Trinity Parish, located in Fort Dodge, Moorland, Duncombe and Dayton.

"We're looking at the property basically so that we could look at making use of some of our sports field area here to build a new church here on our campus," said Monsignor Kevin McCoy, pastor of Holy Trinity Parish and president of St. Edmond Catholic Schools.

The eventual move to a single church building has been a formal goal of the parish since 2010.

Both Phillips and Fair Oaks middle schools were made available for sale through Kesterson Appraisal & Consulting in March. The estimated list price, at the time, was $350,000 for Fair Oaks and $400,000 for Phillips.

McCoy said that Holy Trinity has already made its proposal to the district.

"We've actually made an offer to the public school system. We have an understanding there that they've signed off on," he said. "It's down the road."

According to Kesterson Appraisal, the Phillips property has been sold.

The district, however, has not yet approved the purchase.

"Any offers are done through a closed session, which is allowed by law," Van Zyl explained. "But before a sale of property can take place, it has to take place in a public hearing for us as a school district. So what we have to do is, section 297 of the Iowa Code, post it, there's 10 days. You basically have to have two hearings, two meetings, before the school district can sell."

The district is demanding of any prospective buyers that they present either a sound business plan for the properties, so its facilities will be maintained to meet with state and city expectations and requirements, or a plan to demolish the buildings, Van Zyl said.

"The board would have to have one or the other type of plan presented to them in order to be considering that, and we've shared that with whoever has taken a lot at either one of our sites," he said.

The building sites are the most costly, Van Zyl said.

"It costs about $600,000 to tear down either one of those buildings due to the asbestos and the abatements and some of the other things you would have to do with those particular sites," he said.

While Holy Trinity has a plan for the field that accompanies Phillips, they have no plan for the building, McCoy said.

"We probably would not make use of the Phillips Middle School building," he said. "We probably would take it down."

The district is not in a rush to sell the properties, Van Zyl said, because they are still in use for the 2012-2013 school year. The new middle school will be complete next year and begin operations for the 2013-2014 school year.

The sale of the properties will not be on the agenda of Monday's regular school board meeting, Van Zyl said.

"I don't believe it will be ready because there's a certain number of days that it has to be posted for a public hearing on the sale of property," he said. "We'll probably have a special meeting to hold the first one. As far as what I've taken a look at in the code and working with our legal council, I don't believe it will be ready for a hearing on Monday."



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