The Lawrence school district already has paid $323,000 for a 38-acre site for new schools, but the district will be paying more if the former owners of the land get their way.
The former owners, Minnie Mae and Jack Clevenger, 2622 Belle Haven, are appealing the value affixed to the land by appraisers in a Douglas County District Court condemnation process. The land, now a field of brome and milo grass, is southwest of the T-intersection of Clinton Parkway and Inverness Drive.
The district plans to build a new junior high school and a new elementary school at the site.
When district officials failed to negotiate purchase of the land from Mrs. Clevenger, the district resorted to the condemnation process to acquire the land.
Last month, appraisers assigned the $323,000 value to the land in condemnation proceedings. The school district paid that amount and now owns the land.
However, the Clevengers, who are both named as defendants in the school district's civil suit, have filed an appeal.
"THE APPRAISERS are low-balling everything around here," Jack Clevenger said this morning. "It's just unreal."
Jack Clevenger said he and his wife have received four or five offers from developers to purchase the land at $20,000 to $27,000 an acre. The district paid $8,500 an acre.
Regardless of the price offered, Jack Clevenger said he and his wife were not looking to sell their land to anybody at this time.
"It's been in her family for over 70 years. It belonged to her folks, and they passed it on to her," Jack Clevenger said. "She wanted to pass it on to the kids and let the kids do what they wanted to with it. They wanted the area to build up more before they did anything."
The clerk of Douglas County District Court received the notice of appeal Wednesday. A trial jury will consider the appeal in the court of Douglas County District Court Judge James Paddock. A date for the trial has not yet been set.
REPRESENTING the Clevengers is Topeka attorney John R. Hamilton, who has successfully appealed at least one condemnation ruling in Lawrence in the past.
In 1980-81, Hamilton represented Bryan Anderson, the owner of a building at 600 Mass. that the Lawrence City Commission wanted to raze and replace with a parking lot.
Anderson successfully appealed the court's ruling that he should be paid $102,000 for the building. Instead, the city had to pay Anderson $190,000, or an additional $88,000.
The $29.9 million school bond issue that voters passed in November calls for no more than $13.1 million to be spent on the new junior high school and the new elementary school. Included in that amount is the cost of purchasing the land.
Lawrence School Supt. Al Azinger said the $323,000 value of the land as determined by the appraisers falls within the bounds of what the district had expected to pay.