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Stafford negotiating to purchase land for sixth high school
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Stafford negotiating to purchase land for sixth high school

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Discussions are underway between a Stafford County developer and the school division for the purchase of a parcel in the Hartwood area to be the site of the county’s sixth high school.

Rich Ward said in an interview last week that he received an offer from Stafford County Public Schools to purchase land he owns off U.S. 17 across from Village Parkway in the Hartwood District.

“The Stafford County School Board is interested in purchasing an 83.48886-acre portion of the referenced property and necessary easements for the proposed 6th high school,” Chris Fulmer, the school division’s assistant superintendent of finance and administration, wrote in a letter Ward provided The Free Lance–Star.

Ward said he received the letter in mid-August.

“I’m excited that the School Board is in the process of getting it done,” he said. “It would be amazing if we could get a high school down here. I am optimistic we will make a deal.”

Ward told the Stafford Planning Commission about the School Board’s offer on the property at the commission’s Sept. 22 meeting, during a discussion of his rezoning application for a parcel adjacent to the one being considered for the new high school.

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School Board Chairwoman Holly Hazard said she could not confirm the offer because it has not been discussed out of closed session.

“Deliberations for land acquisition are handled in closed session by the School Board and the county,” she said in a text message. “Only the content of any public motions are able to be discussed in public by the board members.”

Ward said Tuesday that the site would have county water and sewer service.

“The infrastructure costs are incredibly low,” he said.

He believes a high school in the Hartwood area would “dramatically” improve traffic in the county.

“We hear two things as business owners: traffic and overcrowded schools,” Ward said. “Everything else is a distant third. Imagine if we didn’t have kids driving on Ramoth Church and Poplar roads to get to Colonial Forge [High School], or buses that didn’t have to go that far.”

Ward said he is having the property appraised so he can make the school division a counter-offer.

“I do want to negotiate a fair price for the school because to me, that only helps,” he said. “I’m optimistic that negotiations will work themselves out.”

Adele Uphaus–Conner:

540/735-1973

auphaus@freelancestar.com

@flsadele

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