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Mars Area School District

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Board Okays Settlement Agreement for Land Purchase

Mars Area School Board voted 6-3 in favor of ratifying the settlement of the condemnation case of Mars Area School District versus MHY Family Services (formerly Mars Home for Youth) and Mars Area Soccer Club Inc., as outlined by Butler County Court of Common Pleas Judge S. Michael Yeager. 

Board members Steven Boggs, Gordon Marburger and Bonnie Weaver cast the dissenting votes.

As per the settlement agreement, the District will purchase 15.35 acres along Three Degree Road owned by MHY Family Services, including the two northern-most soccer fields and the wooded area between the fields and the Doc’s Way access road at a cost of $2.1 million, said Tom King, District solicitor. The 2 acres on which the southern-most soccer field sits as well as the 2.99-acre lot at the corner of Route 228 and Three Degree Road will remain the property of MHY Family Services.

The monies for the land purchase will come from the District’s capital reserve fund, which may only be used for capital projects such as building construction, infrastructure improvements, and land purchases, said King. By law, the monies cannot be used to supplement the District’s operating expenses.

“The purchase of this property is both an investment as well as an assurance, that its future uses will be consistent with School District purposes and enhance our campus configuration,” said Dayle Ferguson, Board president. “This property is in the center of our school campus and is contiguous to another tract to the north. These two properties will be maintained as athletic field space for School District and community use.”

“The demand for field space is high today, and the need will only grow as we add physical education classes and additional athletic and extra-curricular opportunities for our students in the future,” said Ferguson. “As evidence, our recently commissioned demographic study predicts that our enrollment will rise by 500 students in the next 10 years. In the context of this growth, it is reasonable to expect that this key tract of property, which is in very close proximity to our schools, would not be available at this price and in its present state of use forever.”

“(Our) District and community continues to grow and this fills an important need for fields for our physical education programs, extracurricular and co-curricular programs, and continued community use,” said Dr. Wesley W. Shipley, noting that the District will continue to work with both MHY Family Services and Mars Area Soccer Club to ensure continued access to the fields well into 2018 and beyond.

Under the terms of the agreement, the District agrees to provide MHY Family Services and Mars Area Soccer Club with free use of the soccer fields, in accordance with the District policy. Additionally, the District may not condemn any additional land owned by MHY Family Services in the future; MHY Family Services retains oil and gas rights under the property, barring any surface lease(s) and requiring setbacks of 2,000 feet from any District property; and, the District is second in line, after Mars Area Soccer Club, for the option to purchase the additional 2-acre tract of land, if MHY Family Services ever decides to sell the property.

For more information, call (724) 625-1518.