The Kensington City Council called an emergency meeting on July 19, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. to work on a plan to keep West Central Area South Elementary School in Kensington. The WCA school district is holding a building levy referendum this fall to make improvements on the Secondary School in Barrett, partially demolish and rebuild WCA North in Elbow Lake, and build a new South Elementary school, in either Kensington or Hoffman. Last month, the Hoffman City Council and Kensington City Council outlined several potential sites to the school board, and at their July 19 meeting, the Kensington City Council narrowed those sites down to two and decided to make the school board an offer.
The council, at first, discussed three sites, including Hegg Memorial Field. After considerable research, one site was eliminated because of infrastructure costs and two sites were further explored: Hegg Memorial Field and a 12-18 acre site on the north side of town off Highway #1, just past the Douglas County Highway garage. The council determined that it would be best to present the school board with two offers and let them choose the site they felt would work the best.
Option 1: Hegg Memorial Field – The City of Kensington agreed to donate Hegg Memorial Field, which is across the street from the current WCA South Elementary School, to the West Central Area School District for the site of a new South elementary school. The site already has water and sewer infrastructure. The City of Kensington retains the right to salvage all ball field associated items currently on the ball field prior to construction. This option will cost the city its ballfield, but no monetary contribution will be needed based on the fact the city already owns the land and the water and sewer infrastructure is already on site.
Option 2: Site 1 Location – The City of Kensington agrees to purchase the land for Site 1 between 12-18 acres of farm land on Highway #1, just north of the Douglas County Highway garage, and donate it to the West Central Area School District for the purpose of building a new South elementary school. The City of Kensington also agrees to provide the water and sewer infrastructure to the property line. In exchange, the city would require the old school be demolished and hauled away by the school district and, once completed if the district has no intention of using that parcel for school purposes, the school district will donate that parcel of land to the City of Kensington, with the playground and tennis court area intact. This option will cost the city an estimated $600,000.00 with land costs, water, and sewer infrastructure, surveying etc.
Either offer would be contingent upon a successful referendum vote. The City of Kensington is committed to keeping our elementary school in Kensington and is willing to work with the school district in whatever manner necessary to make this happen.
Clerk Jennifer Kangas and council members John Gran and Amy Eystad met with WCA Superintendent Dale Hogie the next day to formally present the City of Kensington’s two options. Two days later, Kangas received an email from Hogie that thanked the Kensington City Council for their offer and added, “During the WCA Board’s closed session on July 22, 2021, the Board chose to pursue a purchase agreement for a parcel of land located in the Hoffman area and directed me to work towards completion of that agreement. The agreement would be contingent upon a successful referendum vote.”
The WCA School Board will choose a site for WCA South Elementary at their August 18 meeting. That meeting is scheduled for 7:00 a.m. in the Secondary School’s media room.