County and school reach agreement in negotiations for attaching Cook County Family YMCA to school

When representatives of School District 166 and Cook County met last week to negotiate the lease or sale of the west wing of the school building for the construction of the Cook County Family YMCA, the two entities seemed far from agreement. However, on Tuesday, September 25, the two government bodies found common ground and shook hands on the deal.

The matter was still up in the air just days before at the school board meeting on September 20. The school board considered the appraisal completed by Dawn Cole of Cole Appraisal and Consulting, Eveleth. (No relation to the county’s consultant Wade Cole of ORB Management). As reported last week, the appraisal valued the building and the .98-acre of land around at $160,000, or about $7/square foot.

Superintendent Beth Schwarz said she had contacted another appraiser to ask his opinion on the first appraisal.

At the subsequent September 25 negotiations meeting, attended by School Board members Leonard Sobanja and Jeanne Anderson; Superintendent Schwarz; County Commissioners Fritz Sobanja and Sue Hakes; Community Center Director Diane Booth and a handful of community members, Superintendent Schwarz reported on her conversation with John Vigen of Ramsland & Vigen, Inc.

Schwarz said the school did not seek a full appraisal, but she said it was felt that a second opinion would be a good idea. Vigen was coming to Grand Marais for another matter, so Schwarz said he agreed to do a walk-through the school and to review the appraisal done by Cole Appraisal. She said he looked at some additional property comparisons and he arrived at an average square price per foot of $6.66, for a total of $156,749. “If you round that up, it comes to $160,000,” said Schwarz.

The group discussed the school district budget and how it is affected with the community center attached to the school and without. The negotiators took a break to consider the new information and when they returned, reached agreement fairly quickly. 

When they returned, Superintendent Schwarz said ISD 166 could agree to a purchase price of $166,000 and a 99-year lease at $1 per year.

There were a few more details to work out, but the negotiators eventually agreed and will have their attorneys draft an agreement.