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SA board gets one offer for property

June 2, 2011

South Adams’ property for sale (Photo by Kristin Baron)

    There may soon be a new CVS pharmacy store located across from the Muensterberg Plaza and Clock Tower in Berne.
    At a special meeting of the South Adams Schools Board on Wednesday, Superintendent Scott Litwiller announced that the school corporation received only one bid on the former elementary school property. The bid of $650,000 from GKB Enterprises, LLC (owned by Steven J. Kreigh of Decatur and the estate of Ralph E. Biggs) is contingent upon a lease being signed with CVS Corporation.
    The bid falls within the required 90 percent of the appraised value of the property which is $721,000, and it is for a cash transaction.
    Attorney Tim Baker, the board's legal counsel during the property sale process, was present as school board members discussed the bid details for over an hour. Prior to the discussion, Baker disclosed that Attorney Scott Ainsworth, with whom he shares an office in Decatur, works with the bidders. Baker also noted that he and Ainsworth each have an individual law practice within the same office.
    Baker said he wanted to be clear because, "The last thing I want to do is create issues or problems for the board. My job is to represent your interest, and if my involvement somehow compromises or creates issues for the general public, I don’t want it to become an issue for the board."
    The board decided unanimously (Julie Mansfield was absent) to continue using Baker as legal counsel for the property sale process.
    After discussing the bid, the board approved a motion to accept the offer of $650,000 from GKB Enterprises, LLC contingent upon $10,000 in earnest money being paid to the school corporation upon execution of the agreement and that the closing of the sale be on or before October 1, 2011. This counter proposal is good until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, June 7, 2011.
    The wording in the original bid from GKB left the closing date "open ended." Also, the bid from GKB specified that it would not give the earnest money up front.
    Baker was appointed by the board to deliver the counter proposal to the bidder.
    Some of the discussion at the meeting was in response to a letter received by the school board from Naomi Muselman that read in part: "Even though a new CVS store in Berne is desirable, our concern is the location." She added that she and 200 other citizens who signed a petition "do not believe that the intersection of US Highway 27 and State Road 218 is the most optimal location."
    The letter continued: "Instead of a big box retail store, many people in our community believe that a park with green space, a Swiss Amish restaurant with quaint shops, or something similar would be best… We do not believe it is prudent to rush ahead for a quick gain that will only provide short-term financial relief."
    Board member Tony Mellencamp addressed this concern and others by saying, "I live a couple of blocks from that corner and I personally think that CVS, if that were to happen, would be a good corporate citizen." He added that any developer has to use 10 percent green space.
    Mellencamp also said, "There is not going to be a red flashing sign." He explained that the city passed a signage ordinance several years ago requiring that businesses erect monument signs as opposed to pole signs. He referred to the recently remodeled Subway restaurant monument sign as an example.
    Mellencamp added, "Not everybody agrees on what should be done with that property. I can certainly understand where some of these people are coming from. It's not that we don't care. Our purpose on this board is to do what we feel is best for all taxpayers involved. "

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