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2 School Sites Put on Hold After Questionable Land Sales

Posted July 10, 2007

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— Two new school sites in Wake County are on hold for at least a month.

Figures for comparable sales show that an elementary school site in Cary and a middle school site in Rolesville are at or below market price.

However, recent controversy over prices paid for land has prompted the Wake County Board of Commissioners to take a step back before approving money to buy the Cary and Rolesville sites.

Before purchase, the commissioners will require a checklist that includes the ownership history and appraisals.

One site that raised eyebrows was a 32-acre plot in Apex for a new elementary school. The town was also set to buy part of the land from the school system for a future park.

Capstone Development group bought the land for $80,000 an acre and sold it to the school system for $105,000 an acre a year later.

Capstone’s Drew Schenck said that the price reflects a year’s worth of work on the site and claimed the company even turned down a better offer from a national builder in order to sell the site to the school system.

“If anybody doubts that price, let the school system sell it back,” he said. “It would be a quick sale.”

Another Apex site started the debate after it was purchased for $8 million, but later appraised at half the price. The Wake County Board of Education terminated the contract on the site last month.

Commissioners Chairman Tony Gurley said he believes the county should take over responsibility for purchasing and building schools.

“If we’re accountable, we need to be in control, and that’s not the situation right now,” Gurley said.

School officials said they're concerned and also interested in evaluating their process.

One area under consideration is the use of real estate firms. About a year ago, the school system started working with three firms to scout land.

“This is a good time to see if this is effective,” said the schools' Associate Superintendent Don Haydon. “We need to see if we’re getting the most bang for our buck."

School board member Carol Parker said she planned to raise that issue at a Facilities Committee meeting on Tuesday morning.

38 Comments

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  • ARaleighNative Jul 11, 2007

    I have to say that OceanChild is right: The problem lies with the prinicpal of Trademark who apparently put herself in a position to take part in the decision-making and the rewards of substantial sales commissions. A sweet deal that clearly demonstrates her lack of ethics. I will go so far as to guess this is a career-long pattern and practice of this individual. Integrity is sorely lacking here. Frankly, we're all sick of this double dealing!!

  • nowayeddy Jul 10, 2007

    isn't that the group that pushed so hard for the school bong referendum back in November???

  • NeverSurrender Jul 10, 2007

    "But as long as the taxpayer foots the bill for their decisions, they don't generally care much."

    ---

    And isn't particularly interested in researching the background of these people to determine if they're worthy of the office and the public trust...

    "We'll remember in November" is a hollow threat. You know that, I know that, and worst of all...THEY know that.

    They know full well the vast majority of voters cannot be bothered with the details of actual voting records versus media sound bites, of actual understanding of the issues rather than the spin. Nope, that sounds *WAYYYYY* too much like work.

    So are scandals such as these particularly surprising when we elect incompetent scum who are manipulated with ease by special interests with lots of bribes...errr...campaign donations?

    At the end of the day, it's ultimately our fault. We allow them to get away with plundering the public till right in front of us and do nothing about it. Until that changes, nothing will.

  • djofraleigh Jul 10, 2007

    Good this came out, but how was it not apparent sooner? Check on all those other deals, and whose pockets were lined.

    This is going to hurt any bond issues, hurt any increase in property tax, and it should. Confidence is shaky.

  • Nancy Jul 10, 2007

    Once again, proof that accountability is not a high priority for elected officials. They could never get away with such slipshod (blinders on "I see nothing!") work in the private sector.

    But as long as the taxpayer foots the bill for their decisions, they don't generally care much.

    Noone in the school board or county commissioners exposed the ridiculous overpriced property - it was exposed by someone who took a couple minutes and looked up the land transfers. PUBLIC FREAKIN' DOCUMENTS!

  • poohperson Jul 10, 2007

    The county comissioners control the bond money, why do they not find the land??

  • chargernut69 Jul 10, 2007

    ...the main goal of everyone involved today is greed! There is little thought about the children that really need the schools. Are there any honest people left anymore that can prevent the Goodnight types from screwing the Wake County public?

  • oceanchild71 Jul 10, 2007

    Somebody else on the N&O website asked if it was the same person and I looked it up and found out it was. My question is, why is this not being looked into? This person and who knows how many others stood to profit from "inside" info! To me, this is another scandal. It may have been all innocent, but come on! This person either needs to be the owner of the company that is directed by this Citizen's advisory Board, or this person keeps their position on the Board and another company is hired to broker the deals for Wake County.

  • pleshy Jul 10, 2007

    If you use a third party, you have someone else to blame when the deal goes in the tank. You can always limit your liability by hiring someone to do something for you that you could do yourself and get a contract that limits the liability should problems arise.

  • Navy Vet Jul 10, 2007

    Good Job Oceanchild71. Thats very interesting in a grassy knoll kinda way.

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