Residents surrounding the Battle Creek property in south Salem got an extra holiday gift last month when the city announced its intent to purchase 30 additional acres of the property that was once home to the Battle Creek Golf Course.
If all goes according to plan, the city will have a new large park and the Salem-Keizer School District will gain space for a new school to relieve overcrowding.
“Some city councilors came to me privately after rezoning hearings earlier this year and asked if we would investigate the possible purchase of additional land,” Peter Fernandez, Public Works Director, said.
Last spring, property owners in the Battle Creek area spoke out against the city’s decision to rezone the property for redevelopment as a senior living community, citing potential flooding and quality of life concerns. In the newly proposed deal, which the city council approved at its Dec. 14 meeting, the city would add 30 acres to an existing arrangement for 38 acres of the property.
The city will have to amend its parks master plan, the transportation master plan, and its system development charge eligibility list for the project to receive final approval.
“All of those will create opportunities for the public to weigh in on the matter,” Fernandez said.
The purchase price is $2 million, but the Salem-Keizer School District will purchase 10.45 acres of the property for approximately $1.3 million for construction of a new elementary school.
The new school would alleviate overcrowding at Sumpter and Pringle elementary schools, according to Luis Caraballo. The purchase of the land would be covered by the district’s voter-approved 2008 $242 million bond measure.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” Caraballo said. “We have to determine if the land is suitable for a school and that means looking at the potential for flooding.”
The deal would allow the northernmost 14 acres to be redeveloped as the senior living facility with a new collector street connecting Madras Street Southeast to Commercial Street Southeast. The remaining 57 acres of the southern property would become a city park.
Residents of the area surrounding Battle Creek remain cautiously optimistic about the city’s proposal, said John Shepard, who owns property abutting the former golf course.
“It’s a sensible and encouraged idea, but we’re still hoping someone will perform a hydrology study to assess the flooding potential,” he said.