Thursday October 27, 2016
Amid conversations surrounding the November 8 TIF bond vote for development of Market Street and City Center Park, concerns have been raised about continued access to the Rick Marcotte Central School property. The entrance is located right in the heart of where development would take place, on land that is not owned by the city or schools, but has been made available through an easement offered by the property owner. Without the easement, the primary worry is that access to the school might return to a Williston Road entrance, which used to be the only point of entry for students and buses prior to Market Street being built.
Tim McKenzie of South Burlington Realty explained that in the late 80s, the company built Market Street with the intent of developing it. At the time, they made a ten-year agreement with the school to grant an easement to move access to Central School from Williston Road to Market Street. The ten-year time frame was deemed reasonable by both entities as it gave ample time for the costs associated with building the driveway to be paid off. McKenzie said that after the term expired, up to present day, they have essentially had a “handshake” agreement with the school district. “As long as the property is operating as a school, they will have access,” McKenzie said.
Although the TIF vote is separate from the school district and its decision making process, given the recent school configuration conversations and the passion many have expressed for maintaining the district’s three elementary schools, the two topics have become difficult for some to separate. At the October 10 school board meeting, City Councilor Tim Barritt urged the school board to once again acquire a written agreement regarding the easement from South Burlington Realty, as a means of showing the voters that the TIF and school pieces are separate entities.
The board did not dispute the importance of maintaining access to Central School if the city bond vote is approved and Market Street reconstruction begins; they were unanimous in their direction to Superintendent David Young to pursue a written easement. Board members noted that even if the district moves toward consolidation, at least in the short term, they need reliable access to the school.
McKenzie met with Superintendent David Young to begin the process of creating a formal agreement. South Burlington School Board Chair Patrick Leduc reported that as of October 21, “The South Burlington School District met with South Burlington City Center, LLC, and others on Monday about continuing the parties’ roughly 27-year relationship for the provision of access to the Marcotte Central School property. The existing access drive to the Marcotte Central School extends northerly from Market Street but is predominantly located on property owned by South Burlington City Center, LLC, which is the successor-in-title to South Burlington Realty Company. As a result of the meeting, the parties reached an agreement to continue their long-standing relationship which they intend to memorialize in writing very soon. The agreement would allow the school district to continue to have an easement for pedestrian and vehicular access to the Marcotte Central School from Market Street as long as the access is used solely for public school purposes.”
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent