Anoka-Hennepin moves to acquire land in Blaine

Staff Writer
Since 2013, I have primarily covered the Anoka-Hennepin and Spring Lake Park school districts as well as the city of Spring Lake Park for ABC Newspapers.

 

The Anoka-Hennepin School District is planning to acquire about 37 acres north of 125th Avenue and east of Lexington Avenue in Blaine.

The Anoka-Hennepin School District has a purchase agreement in place with Hilding Farms LLC for 37 acres at 4501 125th Ave. NE, Blaine. Photo by Olivia Alveshere
The Anoka-Hennepin School District has a purchase agreement in place with Hilding Farms LLC for 37 acres at 4501 125th Ave. NE, Blaine. Photo by Olivia Alveshere

It’s “speculative buying,” according to Chuck Holden, the district’s chief operations officer.

The district does not intend to make any long-term facilities plans until the Fit for the Future Task Force, meeting since April, makes recommendations to the School Board in January.

But the district wants to acquire the land in Blaine now because “so much is being developed so quickly,” Holden said.

He anticipates the task force will recommend building at least one new elementary school, he said.

“The growth is just unprecedented,” Holden said, pointing to the Johnsville Elementary School attendance area in particular.

Johnsville enrollment surged to 814 students this fall when only 766 were expected to enroll. A 14,000-square-foot addition was made to the school last year, but it is already feeling tight.

Enrollment was up 644 students across the district as of Oct. 1, according to calculations presented by Joel VerDuin, chief technology and information officer, at a School Board meeting Oct. 24.

The district has a purchase agreement in place with Hilding Farms LLC, which owns the property at 4501 125th Ave. NE. The agreement is contingent on the outcome of a soil and wetland delineation study, Holden said. If all goes well, he expects the district would close on the property in January.

If the Fit for the Future Task Force recommends building a new elementary school in Blaine and the board gives the OK to move ahead, a new building could go up on the property provided voters approve a bond referendum in 2017. The earliest a new elementary school would open is ahead of the 2019-2020 school year.

If the board opts not to put a new school there, the property could be sold down the line with value anticipated to increase, Holden said.

[email protected]