School district officials here are working with the city to complete a land swap that will provide ground for a new elementary school on the southeast side.
Provo School District owns land in Bicentennial Park where it had intended to build a school. The park would have become the playground. But former Mayor George Stewart persuaded the district to look elsewhere and not disturb the park, which has a popular sledding hill. The district found another southeast Provo site, but a geological survey discovered an earthquake fault running under it.Now city officials are working to trade land with private owners just above Bicentennial Park to acquire a larger parcel. It will then work a trade with the school district, said Phil Lott, district director of buildings, grounds and trans-portation. The Board of Education has endorsed the site, which is just off State Street at about 1440 South.
"We are really positive it will be a win-win," said Roger Thomas, Provo director of parks and recreation.
He said the private landowners have been cooperative. Even if the district didn't build a school there the land trade with the private owners would still be a good thing because it straightens out jagged property lines.
"It's not the best site, but there's not a lot available," Lott said.
If a school is built there, an undeveloped portion of the park would be used as a playground. Thomas said he doubted the school would take the whole park as its playground. Negotiations are still going on to determine how much land the district will get in the land swap.
"We still need 5 acres," Lott said.
The total site would be about 9 acres, once all trades are completed. The district recently completed a geological survey.
"It appears to be a viable site," Lott said.
The Provo City Council will vote on the land trade with the private landowner May 5. If the trade is done, city and district officials can then complete negotiations.
The district needs to build another school in that area to replace the century-old Maeser elementary school. Financing will come from a $22.5 million bond voters approved last May. The bond also authorized funding for construction of Amelia Earhart Elementary, now under construction on the city's southwest side.
It won't be the first time the city and district have traded ground. More than a decade ago the two entities traded land so Provo could build its baseball park on the southwest side. That's how the district obtained the Bicentennial Park land, Lott said. No money changed hands in that deal, he said, and no money will change hands in this one.
"There's only one taxpayer, so why pay twice," Lott said.