Exeter city, schools at odds over city park

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

School District requests more parking, Mayor against proposal

The city of Exeter and the Exeter School District are at odds over the district's request to create more parking by using a portion of the city park.

Brad Porter, member of the Exeter School Board, addressed the city recently and asked for it to donate to the district the western-most portion of the park, from where the district's bus barn is located to the elementary school parking lot, so it could be used for more parking.

"The school has been battling parking on the elementary school side of the building, and we've even had a couple of

accidents in the parking lot," he said.

Rusty Reed, mayor of Exeter, was dead set against the proposal, saying he believes the land for the city park was donated to the city with the condition it may only be used for a city park.

Rhonda Scott, Exeter alderwoman, said she does not see a problem with making a portion of the park into a parking lot, as the portion of the park in discussion is not generally used by the public.

Reed suggested to extend parking options for the district, it should consider moving the double-wide trailer or demolishing the small house on campus.

Porter said the district has considered those options, but both buildings are being used for storage, and demolishing the house may prove costly if asbestos is found.

Scott said both sides would benefit from converting the portion of the park into a parking lot, as it would provide more space for the school and additional parking for residents wishing to use the city park.

Reed said the city will have to research if there were any stipulations on the deed that would prevent the city from donating the land to the school district. The land was donated to the city after it was offered to the school district, and the district declined to take it.

Porter said if the city cannot donate the land, the district would pay for the cost to make the portion of the park into a parking lot, which would still be owned by the city.

The deed to the land is being held in a safe deposit box, and the city will revisit the request at its next city council meeting, which is scheduled for Sept. 9 at 3:30 p.m at city hall.

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