School board rejects city’s offer for Burkhart bypass


Seymour Community School Corp. trustees rejected the city’s offer for nearly 11 acres of school-owned property needed for the Burkart South Bypass.

That unanimous decision by trustees, who didn’t discuss the offer, came during Tuesday’s monthly board meeting at the administration building.

Following the meeting, Superintendent Rob Hooker said trustees need more information about the project and have expressed concerns for student safety at nearby Seymour-Jackson Elementary.

“We just want to make sure our kids are safe,” said Hooker, who made the recommendation.

The city offered $175,105 for one parcel of 10.483 acres and $21,375 for another half acre near the administration building and the school, city officials reported.

The offers were made as part of the second phase of the $20 million bypass project, which will connect Burkhart Boulevard on the city’s east side to Airport Road on the city’s west side.

The first phase, which includes construction of an overpass over the Louisville & Indiana Railroad, will connect Tipton Street on the east side of the city to O’Brien Street. That work is expected to begin in late 2019.

The second phase will take the bypass west from O’Brien Street to G and E Avenues in Freeman Field, while a third phase — to be constructed this coming year — will run involve improving Airport Road from that intersection to Tipton Street.

The road in the second phase, which won’t be constructed until 2022, will run along the south side of the school administration building, transportation center and the school.

Hooker said there are concerns about traffic flow in the area; the affect on the school farm; and the offer itself.

Part of the school’s property is zoned agriculture and some is commercial, Hooker said.

“There’s obviously a price difference, but it’s the process of negotiations,” he said.

Mayor Craig Luedeman said the city considered safety when it looked at that part of the project.

He said the project will be safer because it will include a walking path for pedestrians.

“They currently can’t (walk there) because there is no path there,” he said. “That would help encourage that, too.”

Luedeman said the school board’s decision has the potential to halt some portions of the project, and he plans to meet with school officials as soon as possible. No meeting had been set as of Thursday morning.

The situation may be complicated as Hooker is set to retire at the end of the year, he said.

“Hopefully we meet sooner than later so we can work out those concerns,” Luedeman said.

He said he could not foresee where the issue is going, but hopes it can be resolved without a legal battle involving eminent domain.

“The worst case scenario is you end up in court fighting over the land,” he said. “You don’t want to do that, especially with the school corporation in your community and you hope you can work together and work that out.”

The city recently purchased six parcels of land totaling $357,305 for about 6.5 acres of land in the Freeman Field for the second phase.

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