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Board okays land buy for bus depot

Two days after the School Board postponed choosing a site for a new transportation complex, board members gave district officials the go-ahead Thursday to purchase 100 acres at California Street and Powell Road.

The direction was given at a budget workshop Thursday afternoon during which the board discussed how to pay for the property. Because it was a workshop, there was no vote on the measure. An official selection will be made Aug. 20.

The School Board postponed choosing a site for the centralized complex Tuesday night after board members Gail Coleman and Stephen Galaydick said they still had questions about the land acquisition.

They questioned how the district would pay for the site and whether an elementary school should be built on the same land.

District facilities officials had selected five sites for the board to consider for the depot, which will replace overburdened facilities in Brooksville and Spring Hill.

One of those sites was 15 acres at the Holland Springs Industrial Park that the district bought in 1993 for $475,000. Another was 60 acres at the southwest intersection of California Street and Powell Road, which is on the market for $510,000. The district has an option to buy an additional 40 acres at that site for $240,000, for a total of $750,000.

Officials hope to sell the Holland Springs property for $475,000, bringing the cost for the 100 acres to $275,000.

At Thursday's budget meeting, finance director Tim Bargeron explained that state funding and $1.5-million that the district has set aside for the new elementary school would cover the cost of the land and construction of the building.

Once that was settled, the board agreed to purchase the 100 acres so the district has enough land to build the transportation complex, the elementary school and still have property left over for future use.

"It makes a lot of sense if you think about it," board member Sandra Nicholson said.

Galaydick maintained his opposition to the plan, citing continued concerns about the financing and the wisdom of putting the bus depot and a school on the same piece of property. Coleman did not attend Thursday's workshop.

In other action during the workshop, the board okayed a proposal to pursue the purchase of two acres for a staff parking lot at Springstead High School.

District officials want to build a parking lot to the north of the campus, across Landover Boulevard. One of the eight lots on the land has a duplex on it, but officials said they would place a privacy fence around the building.

Superintendent John Sanders told the board the $125,000 purchase is the first step to prepare the campus for the return of the school's freshman class in August 1997 from the ninth-grade center on Deltona Boulevard.

Officials converted the former West Hernando Middle School campus into a ninth-grade center several years ago to relieve overcrowding at the main campus. However, the school is now needed again for middle school pupils.

Plans for expansion of the main Springstead campus were not available for board members Thursday, but Sanders said they would be finished by September.

Galaydick would not agree to the purchase of the parking lot because those plans were missing.

"I don't see the whole thing gelling together. I don't see the whole plan. That's why I object to it," Galaydick said. "All the factors going into the decision are not here."