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The Columbia Press


School board approves $6.3 million property purchase

By Cindy Yingst, Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Warrenton-Hammond School District will pay $6.3 million for property south of Walmart on which it will build a new middle school campus.

After meeting in executive session last week, the board of directors announced it had come to terms with Warrenton Fiber Company for 58-acres east of Dolphin Avenue.

The purchase was approved unanimously with the board’s newest member, Neal Bond, making the motion.

“It’s a great night to be a Warrior,” board President Debbie Morrow said after the meeting. “This was three years in the making.”

Escrow on the property is expected to close in April.

Acquiring the property is the first step in a long process. Eventually the site will be a K-12 master campus developed in three phases. The first phase – a middle school for grades six, seven and eight -- will be funded by proceeds from the bond passed by voters in November.

“We’ve got the least amount of money,” board member Dan Jackson said, comparing the district’s bond election to those in Astoria and Seaside. “And we’re getting a new facility that’s our starting point.”

Construction of the first phase is expected to take 30 to 36 months.

“The Nygaard family and Warrenton Fiber Company are very excited to be able to be a part of this,” John M. Nygaard said. “It will really improve education in our area and it’s a great opportunity for the whole community.”

The company is the in process of platting the Roosevelt Subdivision, a 74-home project that will go on vacant land between the Forest Rim neighborhood and the new middle school.

“That’s probably the biggest task and we hope to have it done by April,” Nygaard said. “What’s left is what the school ultimately ends up buying.”

The district had the property appraised and offered $109,000 per acre. It was among the last large parcels of land outside the tsunami inundation zone and within the district’s boundaries “We thought the appraisal was very good and we went along with it,” Nygaard said. “It was a very easy thing to do.”

He praised Superintendent Mark Jeffery, Business Manager Mike Moha and legal counsel Kelly Hossaini as “a really great team to work with.”

Taxpayers will repay the bonds -- used to both purchase the property and build the school -- over the next three decades through their property taxes.

The school district’s two campuses, Warrenton Grade School and Warrenton High School, both are within or close to the tsunami inundation zone. Further expansion of either campus has been forbidden because of the potential safety issue during a catastrophic event.

Meanwhile, an increasing student population has especially crowded the halls of the grade school. Moving the middle schoolers to the new location first will free up space there.

The district plans to develop a website that will show progress made at the site with drone pictures.

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