PHOENIXVILLE — Looking toward the desired construction of a new school building on the grounds of Meadow Brook Golf Club, the Phoenixville Area School District will purchase a nearby property to accommodate intersection improvements sought by PennDOT.
In Thursday night’s meeting, the Phoenixville Area School Board voted 6-1 to buy the property at 6 Hallowell Ave. in Schuylkill Township for $295,000.
The property is located in a wedge of land between West Pothouse Road and Hallowell Avenue. It stands on a corner of a five-point intersection made up of West Pothouse Road, Hallowell Avenue and Route 29.
Phoenixville Executive Director of Operations Stan Johnson said the property, which contains one house, was independently put up for sale by the owners.
Since Route 29 and West Pothouse Road are state highways, paperwork tied to the proposed construction of a combined elementary school and early learning center was sent to PennDOT for approval.
“PennDOT has indicated in their comments to our letter that they recommended that that whole intersection be addressed,” Johnson said. “So when this property came on the market, we consulted with our engineers and it was recommended that we purchase that property as it is likely that there will have to be some work done at that intersection that could affect the property.”
What exactly those improvements will be has not yet been made clear by PennDOT but owning the property will make any modifications easier to implement, according to Johnson.
With Jan Potts and Betsy Ruch absent, Board Vice President Dan Cushing was the lone vote against the purchase.
Cushing told The Mercury that he voted no because he wanted to get a better idea of what exactly PennDOT wanted done before he decided on whether or not to go through with the purchase.
Andrew Hohorst, a Meadow Brook Golf Club member, expressed exasperation at the board’s move, citing the stalling of the project due to legal objections filed in a Chester County court in mid-December.
“You’re putting the cart in front of the horse in so many different ways,” Hohorst said. “I hope that you can sit there and think that the money you are spending is not Monopoly money. This is taxpayer money. We pay for this.”
Hohorst, who said he’s a friend of the Campbell/Browns, the club’s owners, has spoken against the eminent domain decision at every school board meeting since the Nov. 14 vote which set the acquisition in motion.
“If the Meadow Brook project failed in court and we don’t develop that property, is there anything that keeps us from putting that house back on the market?” asked board member Ken Butera.
“No, that would be the recommendation of administration if the project does not proceed,” Johnson replied.
Regardless of whether the Meadow Brook acquisition is upheld or overturned in court, the district plans to retain and sell the house located on the property through “subdivision or re-division” of the property once PennDOT’s plans are made more “clear,” according to Johnson.
“Our preliminary indication is we can sustain this property,” and sell it later, but that depends on what PennDOT wants done, exactly, he said.
Johnson said the house at 6 Hallowell Ave. was purchased in 2008 for $300,000 and was initially put back on the market for $310,000. The price was recently lowered, he said, to $299,000 and the district offered $295,000, which the owners accepted.
For a Twitter recap of the Jan. 23 board meeting, click here.