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School board candidates in Madison Heights ask why district sold property below market value

Posted at 7:03 PM, Oct 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-11 19:04:12-04

It is just over 3.5 acres of land, next to a park at Alger and Barrett Avenue, surrounded by a neighborhood.

Real Estate Agent and candidate for The Madison District Schools Board Mark Kimble has an opinion on how much it is worth.

“At least $300,000,” said Kimble.

He points to nearby lots listed for about $10,000 that are about 1/30th the size.

An assessor gave it a value of much less,  approximately $90,000. A short time later the district sold it for $60,000.

School board candidates Mark Kimble and Jeremy Haggard ask why?

“Right now it seems they are doing some back room deals,” said Haggard.

“It was sold to the board president’s friend of 37 years,” said Kimble.

Is that just an election-time conspiracy theory? There are two sides of the story.

The current School Board President Al Morrison says, yes he turned to a friend, but not for the sake of the friend. 

“I reach out to every relationship I have to give kids opportunity, however I can do it,” said Morrison.

John David who owns Emergency Restoration is one of the buyers. I spoke to him on the phone. He says he paid a fair price. 

He negotiated a sale of $60,000 because there is an 8,000-gallon oil tank under the ground filled with oil and cement. Plus the foundation from the old school building remains underground.

It is going to cost at least 40 grand to remove the tank and foundation.

He also committed to organizing seminars for Madison District students on financing construction, environmental studies, hands-on building, and more.

“They will learn about every step of building, and eventually, part of the negotiation was, they are going to build a house,” said Morrison.

“It has never been about a land sale. It has been about investing in our community, investing in our students,” said Randy Speck, Superintendent of Madison District Schools. 

Superintendent Speck says all district policies were followed as they searched for builders. School leaders met with many builders and only one was interested in this educational partnership.

Kimble and Haggard insist there should have been a public bid.

“There should be a public bid for everything,” said Haggard.

John David, one of the buyers of the property said he was shocked at the value of $300,000 that Kimble came up with. 

He says he is aware of the appraisal of the property of $90,000.

"This is and always has been about Madison Schools, so if Mr. Kimble is interested or can manage a buyer at that price, I am definitely willing to sell. I will retain my original $60,000 and donate the additional profits to the Madison Schools and explore other property investments to work with the building trades program," said David.