Crookston School Board tables land transfer to City of Crookston

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    On the Crookston School Board’s main agenda for Monday was discussion for the transfer of land from the school district to the City of Crookston and the board was caught by surprise when they found out the location of the land. Superintendent Jeremy Olson told the board the land is on the south end of town in the Carman Addition near Tri-Valley Head Start, at what the city calls Carman Park, and the field that Crookston Youth Soccer Association practices and plays on.

    The Times researched the parcel and found that independent school district #593 does in fact own the deed to Parcel 82.02267.00 with legal description, “All of Block 20 Subdivision Name Carman TSTE Subdivision CD 82033.” The current land value of the parcel as of January 2, 2021 is $45,000 plus $4,400 in improvements. A picnic shelter and warming house were added to the property in 2004 but the City of Crookston.

    Olson’s suggestion to the board was to transfer the land to the city at no charge as the city has been using and maintaining the land for “quite some time” and he voiced concerns of the liability if they don’t make the transfer. Board member Mike Theis wondered if the district would still have access to the space for soccer or flag football if they make the transfer and Olson answered that they’d lose their legal right to the land but thought they’d still be able to access it under the city.

    Board chair Frank Fee wondered if they sold the land to the city rather than transfer it and use the funds the district was about to discuss in the next agenda topic going towards lights at Jim Karn Field to even out the deal. Then, board member Tim Dufault asked about the land’s market value to which Olson replied that he would get back to him with the answer.

    Olson then pointed out that there was no rush for the board to make a decision as they just found out the district owned the land, but said he needed direction.

    “If you sell a piece of land you could go to a higher bidder,” Olson added. “A developer could bid.”

    Fee wanted to know if the city had ever asked the district to use the land and Dufault wondered if there would be interest for private development on the corner and the rest transferred to the city. Board member Patty Dillabough said the area was once home to Carman School and she’d like the soccer fields and green space to remain there.

    “We can’t guarantee that will stay green space,” Theis pointed out, referring to the possibility of a transfer.

    Soon thereafter Theis made a motion for the district to retain the land which was seconded by board member Dave Davidson.

    “How did it come to our attention that the district owned the property?” asked Fee.

    Olson said a developer approached him while researching the area.

    Theis said the district is in the “business” of students, kids and education, and their interest should be in line with what they should do. The item was then tabled until the next board meeting and Olson will be in touch with City Administrator Amy Finch to discuss the matter.