WD land purchase

Western Dubuque Community School Board members on Friday approved purchasing this parcel of land next to Western Dubuque High School in Epworth, Iowa. The district will pay $425,000, or nearly $31,500 per acre.

FARLEY, Iowa – Western Dubuque High School’s footprint is expected to expand by about 30 percent.

In a meeting that lasted just four minutes this afternoon, Western Dubuque Community School Board members voted unanimously to purchase 13.5 acres of cropland just to the north of the Epworth school. The district will pay $425,000, or nearly $31,500 per acre.

There are no immediate plans for how to take advantage of the added space. But it was an opportunity on which district leaders had to jump, according to district Business Director Mark Frasher.

“We’ve kind of been landlocked there forever,” he said after the meeting. “An opportunity presented itself for purchase.”

Superintendent Rick Colpitts said the district’s elementary schools that feed into Drexler Intermediate/Middle School in Farley are growing. That means Drexler will grow as well.

A recent study showed Drexler is at about 93 percent capacity. The building had about 750 students at the start of the most recent school year, a total that is expected to rise by more than 100 over the next five years. 

As Drexler expands, so, too, must the high school, which currently sits on about 43 district-owned acres.

“We know we’re going to have to do some expanding there at that point,” Colpitts said.

The new land will be paid for with revenue from the district's physical plant and equipment levy. 

It is still too soon to determine how the new land will factor into plans regarding WD High School’s growth, Colpitts said. However, it likely wouldn’t be used for a new building, he said.

More likely, the school’s structural footprint will expand into green space currently used for athletics programs. If that happens, the new land could be turned into practice fields.

“It could turn into green space, practice facilities, baseball fields, soccer fields,” Colpitts said.

District officials had spoken with the agricultural property owners a few years ago about a possible purchase, but the talks didn’t go anywhere. But the chance recently arose again, Colpitts said.

“If the opportunity presents itself and you choose not to move on it, somebody else (will take it),” he said.

Online property records show the land currently is owned by Douglas and Stacy Pfab, who purchased the parcel in 2011 for $230,500, or about $17,000 per acre. The 2018 assessed value of the land is $41,688, or just more than $3,000 per acre. 

The Pfabs did not return a phone message seeking comment for this story. 

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