Utah Valley State College's future in north Utah County could rest on a 100-acre parcel between a high school and the LDS Temple in American Fork.
UVSC President Kerry D. Romesburg said the land, which belongs to the Utah State Developmental Center, a state training center for the seriously disabled, would be used as a campus to service some 8,000 students in northern Utah County expected to enroll in college classes by 2008."It's a landbanking situation," Romesburg said. "If we could lock it up for $50,000 an acre, it is a steal. If we can just do it."
The land's price tag, however, is holding up the deal. Legislation by Sen. LeRay McAllister, R-Orem, was stalled when the cost fluctuated in estimates from $30,000 to $70,000 an acre.
Legislators have asked UVSC administrators to propose a plan that will show how the land will be used and which budget will be tapped to pay for a multiyear lease. Trustees will work on a plan throughout the month.
The Utah State Board of Regents also must approve the plan that will be referred to lawmakers. Romesburg wants to give regents more than a month to mull the school's proposal.
"We have an opportunity between now and July to submit a proposal to the regents," Romesburg said. "The only reason it's not an obvious yes, that we will pursue it, is how it will be funded."
Gilbert Cook, vice president for college relations, said the deal has been bandied about for two years. UVSC leases a building that once was used by the developmental center, which owns 300 acres of prime property seen by developers as ripe for development.
"With the temple there, developers are gobbling up the land," Cook said.
Instead of selling to the highest bidder, the state center decided to look at other Utah agencies or departments that may need land to grow. By law, proceeds from the sale of the land must be returned to the developmental center.
"We never dreamed we'd even get the land," Cook said. "We can't even get funding for a building on campus, how could we get land for more buildings?"
Cook was elated to hear UVSC was being considered as one of the top picks for the land.
"The training center would like to have us out there," he said.
School officials are looking at a way to creatively finance the proposed purchase and justify the cost. Trustee Wilford Clyde said there may be some land in Lindon, Pleasant Grove, Lehi or Highland that could make better and cheaper locations for a future campus.
"There's a lot of questions that need to be answered before we run out and buy 100 acres," Clyde said.