BY SUE KIESEWETTER
DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP -- Kings Schools officials are interested in working with Deerfield Township on a joint project that could bring a school and park on part of the King Mansion property across from Kings Mills Elementary School.
Township officials are negotiating with former trustee and property owner Bob Carter for part of the land on King Avenue between the Riverwalk subdivision and the Little Miami River. As much as 37 acres could be involved, according to Hale Husband, who sits on both the Kings School Board and the Deerfield Township Park and Recreation Committee.
Kings Superintendent David Query told board members Wednesday he has had preliminary discussions with township officials about working together to purchase and develop the land. He estimated the district would need a minimum of 15 to 18 acres for a new school. Board members also discussed another option should trustees and school officials move forward with the purchase: building one large school to replace both South Lebanon and Kings Mills elementary schools. Mr. Query said Fanning - Howey Architects has looked at the property and said a school could be built there.
"There's lots of options for us," Mr. Husband said, noting the township needed additional ball fields for children's sports. For the past year the school board has been wrestling with plans to either improve or replace South Lebanon Elementary School. Recently, discussions expanded to include making needed repairs to Kings Mills Elementary School because both projects could be combined into one bond issue.
Without a bond issue the district could make only minimal repairs to South Lebanon and none to Kings Mills using its permanent improvement fund, Mr. Query said.
Board member Becky Holloway said she likes the idea of a new school for all the children from both schools, but warned that the reception might not be as enthusiastic in South Lebanon.
"I will venture to say, if you tell the people in South Lebanon they are going to lose their building, there will be screams," Mrs. Holloway said.
Should the project move forward, Mr. Query said a bond issue could be structured in such a way that taxes would be increased only minimally, if at all. That's because previous bond issues are due to be paid off in the next few years. About $13 million would likely be needed for a new school.
Board members also discussed the possibility of including the Kings Mills building in plans for the Carter property.
"Is it easier to get the dough for one building in South Lebanon or get the dough for a larger building?" questioned board member Steve Contardi, who said he liked the idea.
Deerfield Township Assistant Administrator Doug Larrick said the Carter property is one of several sites the township is interested in for parkland. Over the next 12 months the township could purchase up to 200 acres, which would meet minimum national standards based on population.
He said the township will purchase a 79-acre tract soon and has options for a second tract.