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LEASE FOR NEW SCHOOL TRACT SIGNED; CITY GETS $400,000

The lease between the city and the school district for the Porter Road land where a new consolidated high school will be built was signed late Tuesday afternoon after the school district delivered a $400,000 check to Mayor James C. Galie.

The signing of the lease allows removal of the sledding hill to begin, which in turn clears the way for both the new school and a new sports dome and driving range, Galie said. The dome and driving range are being constructed by a private firm under a separate lease with the city.

Corporation Counsel Robert P. Merino said the 99-year school lease requires that the city get $400,000 upon signing to pay for the cost of removing the sledding hill by July 1 and reconfiguring the parking area now located east of the Greens restaurant and clubhouse. The district must pay the city another $600,000 by Sept. 1 to be dedicated to Hyde Park capital improvements, such as the cost of a sidewalk to be constructed by the city from Robbins Drive to the entrance to the school, which will be located south of the Greens restaurant.

The lease also calls for the district to upgrade and maintain the city's Sal Maglie Stadium in nearby Hyde Park at the district's expense. The city will continue to provide routine maintenance at the stadium, which is to be used jointly for school and community recreation programs, with priority given to the district during regular school athletic seasons. The district will build a new football and soccer practice field with a grandstand, running track and washrooms, which also will be used by the city.

The hill will be removed by a subsidiary of the Cataract Sports and Entertainment Group. The company has a contract with the city to build a $1.5 million golf and multisports dome and outdoor driving range north of the Greens restaurant.

The district will sublease the land to Honeywell, a Minnesota energy-controls company, which will construct the school and lease it back to the district for 30 years, making the school the state's first privately owned public school.

The lease enables the district to build a school and other related structures as required; parking areas for students, faculty and visitors; and athletic playing fields with necessary fencing, stands and apparatus. The district also will replace the city's parks storage facility with a building of at least 5,000-square-feet for the city's exclusive use. The district will be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of all leased lands and improvements. The district also is required to protect adjacent park and golf course lands from pedestrian traffic during construction and operation of the school by ditching, berming or landscaping. All modifications to city-owned property must be approved by the city.

Under the lease, the district agrees there will no be more than three access roads -- Porter Road, Pine Avenue and New Road, if desired. Any change in the road or parking systems will require approval from the city. The district agrees to minimize the use of Porter Road for construction traffic.

Terms of the lease, approved by the City Council and the Board of Education last August, were recently worked out by lawyers for the city and school district. Many of the items addressed, such as traffic, sidewalks and drainage, were among concerns raised by Porter Road neighbors and City Council members last summer.