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Residents Plea for Bid Extension on Water Tower Site

The PUSD School Board agreed to extend the period for which the city of San Diego can place an offer by 60 days.

Residents came to the Poway Unified School Board Tuesday evening to ask the board to extend the deadline for an open bid proposal regarding the a piece of district property known as the Water Tower Site.

The land, which is not currently being used by the district, has been on the table to be sold since 2006. New legislation has allowed the money made from the selling of the property to be used for the general fund.

"This is an asset of the district and general fund," Superintendent John Collins said of the site.

Collins told Patch that after Dec. 31, 2013, money made off the sale of the property could only be used for capital facilities, unless otherwise stated by law. Capital facilities include renovations and repairs of school facilities. Money in the general fund can be used as seen needed by the district.

PUSD has received no bites from public agencies, however the city of San Diego inquired about the property, which is located at 16061 Avenida Venusto, on July 19 of this year.

A bid by the city was never received, according to director of the district Sandy Burgoine, but they are still expressing interest.

Burgoine said the water tower site is now considered surplus property.

The board was presented with an agenda item that would allow for other agencies to bid on the land, which amounts to almost 11 acres.

However, residents pleaded with the board to extend the time for the city of San Diego to make an offer on the land, asking for an additional 90 day extension.

Robin Kaufman, the head of the Rancho Bernardo Community Council, said she wanted to give San Diego more time to make an offer because she'd like to see the space turned into a park.

"Our only community park is too small," she said, asking for 90 more days before they open the bid to other agencies. "See how we, the community, can negotiate. I know we can do that with this property."

Resident Sally Grigorive wants to see the property turned into a field for althetic programs.

"We have insufficient field space," she said to the board. "What I'm requesting is more runway to work with San Diego for negotiations."

Grigorive also said she has a $2 million grant in the works that she said she would willingly give to the city if they purchased the land.

Board President Linda Vanderveen asked the community how many more extensions they would be asking for.

"If we give another extension and San Diego still doesn't bite, will you drop it?" she asked.

Kaufman assured Vanderveen that the community could get the city of San Diego to present an offer with the 90-day extension request.

Other community members spoke up, also wanting to see the land be used as a public park.

Board member Marc Davis reminded the audience that the sale is "as-is" and that the property is zoned for recreational use. Any other use for the land would require rezoning.

After more than half an hour of discussion, member Todd Gutschow made a motion to table the item until January, effectively giving residents an extra 60 days to convince the city of San Diego make an offer for purchasing the water tower site.

"I don't think postponing is an issue," said Collins.

But Vanderveen said it was.

"I'm concerned about that," she said. "We're kind of running out of time."

The item will be brought to the board again in January. If the city of San Diego still hasn't made an offer on the land, the district can choose to open it to public bid. From there, they can choose to either accept the highest bid or no bids at all.

Regulations call for notifying agencies at least 30 days in advance for bids, with 60 days as a common courtesy. Escrow would take another 30 days to close. PUSD is trying to sell the property by Dec. 31.

Vice President Andy Patapow seconded the motion by Gutschow to table the item until January.

"I feel the passion you all have for this being a park," said board member Penny Ranftle. "I'll support this until January, albeit reluctantly."

Motion to table the item, giving residents an extra 60 days to convince the city of San Diego to purchase the water tower site, was passed unanimously by the board.

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