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Money for land purchase would come from loan, then be paid back after current site sold

PMG FILE PHOTO - After a lengthy and extensive search process, the Newberg school district has set its sights on a property to build the new Dundee Elementary School, replacing an aging schoolhouse that currently sits just off Highway 99W.

After a lengthy and extensive search process, the Newberg school district has set its sights on a property to build the new Dundee Elementary School.

This replaces an aging schoolhouse that currently sits just off Highway 99W. The new building is among the big-ticket items slated to be funded by a $141 million school construction bond passed by voters in 2020, but financing for the purchase of the property itself is proposed to come via other means.

The district seeks the school board's approval for a $3.45 million loan to finance the purchase of a parcel of land near Edwards Drive and Eighth Street near the Newberg-Dundee bypass, with financing to pay the loan coming from the eventual sale of the current Dundee Elementary property.

"We as a school district heard a lot of feedback from the people of Dundee about the school property and the adjacency of the park property for the city of Dundee," district communications coordinator and bond manager Gregg Koskela said. "The school district owns that property and leases it to CPRD. The community of Dundee was really clear in their feedback of wanting to keep that intact as much as possible.

"The city of Dundee and others in Dundee have suggested different properties and so we've investigated all those and done our due diligence on those. The complication we have is when we wrote the material in the bond, we put money in the bond for rebuilding the school and not for any land acquisition. So, we want to abide by that and not use any of our bond dollars for land acquisition. That isn't what we asked for and we always want to stick with what we ask for from the public."

The property which the school district has been in negotiations to purchase falls within the new Riverside Development Area that the city of Dundee aims to break ground on in the coming years. Koskela said building a school in that area could help jumpstart the development process because it will bring more traffic through and interest to the relatively unincorporated area.

Financing to purchase the property should come through this process, Koskela said, in order for the district to break even on its pursuit of new land for a new school.

"That money is coming from a bridge loan process which we believe we can match with the sale of the current school property," Koskela said. "The board will consider if they want to do that kind of bridge financing, so it ends up being overall a net-zero cost. But in order to actually do the new building, we need that financial bridge in place.

"Through this process, we are maintaining our commitment to taxpayers that we won't use any bond money for property acquisition. We didn't ask for that. We will use the bond money to actually build the school itself once we acquire this property."

Although the Newberg school board was set to address the Dundee Elementary subject at its Oct. 12 meeting, chairman Dave Brown tabled the discussion on the land purchase until Oct. 26. There is a sense of urgency among those involved in the bond process, though, to complete the purchase and get started on the design phase for the new school.

"Of the four big bond projects, this is the one that is the least far along because of the site issue," Koskela said. "Newberg High School has a big renovation and there's been a lot of work on that, on Catalyst, and on Edwards. All three of those have been getting rolling all this summer and fall, trying to figure out and finalize the different designs. We're getting to the design development phase, where we'll be looking at all of those projects going out to bid in early 2022 with construction starting next summer."


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