Some have asked: Why not use the property that the district already owns on County Road UU to build a school?
The Hudson School District owns 110 acres of land located on County Road UU, east of the City of Hudson. Back in 1959 the school district purchased 23 acres of land for a future school site for $1,589.30
In 2001 an additional 87 acres, adjacent to the property, was purchased for $1,857,500. At the time of the second purchase, the school district assumed either the city would eventually expand its borders to include the property thereby providing city utilities or a waste water system would work on the site.
The current reality
Fast forward to the present day. It is time to build a new school and the UU property remains just outside the boundaries of the City of Hudson, negating the possibility of city sewer and water connection.
Given the size high school our community now requires (2,000-2,500 students), a sewage treatment facility would be necessary on the site. Unfortunately, the construction of such a facility is impossible to build on that site for a school that size.
No city sewer and water means no large school
The simple answer is, without city water and sewer a waste water treatment facility must be constructed on the property to properly handle the waste generated by a 2,000- to 2,500-student facility.
The setbacks required for a sewage treatment plant leave only one location on the UU property where the plant can be built — right in the center. This leaves only the smaller 24-acre parcel for a school building. To further complicate things, the natural drainage of the property runs directly through the location where the waste water facility needs to be constructed.
Too many hills
Even if the topographical issues could be worked around and the treatment facility could be built, its required location doesn’t leave enough buildable space on the property to construct a school large enough to accommodate our student population. This beautiful piece of property would be used solely for a waste water treatment facility.
If not a secondary school, then what happens to the property?
The district is committed to selling all or a portion of the UU property when land prices make the sale worthwhile to taxpayers. It is possible that the district would retain 23 acres of the site for the future construction of an elementary school and sell the remaining 87 acres, which are better suited for residential construction. The property does not cost the district anything other than carrying costs, which in today’s market are very low.
The stake in the heart of the UU site
Some community members are convinced that a secondary school site can be built on the land the district already owns on County Road UU. Still, there are those who are adamant that the city can make it happen through traditional or corridor annexation.
After doing some digging, I can honestly say that it can't.
But don't take my word for it. Take the word of Dennis Darnold (Hudson's community development director), the state statutes of Wisconsin, and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.
From The City of Hudson
Here's the skinny: I wrote to Mr. Darnold to get in writing the answers we've been told to be fact on annexation. I asked, "Does the city have a plan or envision as part of a long-range plan, 5-20 years, to extend Hudson city sewer and water out far enough to encompass that location? If so when? Can the city extend a single sewer and water system out to just that location?"
Short and sweet answers: No, and no. Not growing there, and not going there. You can read the details of the letter, which is attached to this post.
From Wisconsin State Statutes:
Wisconsin State Statutes couldn't be clearer.
66.0217 Annexation initiated by electors and property owners.
66.0217(2) (2) Direct annexation by unanimous approval. Except as provided in this subsection and sub. (14), and subject to ss. 66.0301 (6) (d) and66.0307 (7), if a petition for direct annexation signed by all of the electors residing in the territory and the owners of all of the real property in the territory is filed with the city or village clerk, and with the town clerk of the town or towns in which the territory is located, together with a scale map and a legal description of the property to be annexed, an annexation ordinance for the annexation of the territory may be enacted by a two-thirds vote of the elected members of the governing body of the city or village without compliance with the notice requirements of sub. (4). In an annexation under this subsection, subject to sub. (6), the person filing the petition with the city or village clerk and the town clerk shall, within 5 days of the filing, mail a copy of the scale map and a legal description of the territory to be annexed to the department and the governing body shall review the advice of the department, if any, before enacting the annexation ordinance. No territory may be annexed by a city or village under this subsection unless the territory to be annexed is contiguous to the annexing city or village."
From the League of Wisconsin Municipalities
And for the final nail in the coffin on annexation, The League of Wisconsin Municipalities publishes interpretations of statutes on many several issues. Basically, they help local governments stay out of trouble. If the idea is to create an "island" separate from the city, they explain that:
170. Proposed annexation of territory consisting of a one foot strip, approximately one mile long, connected to a 40 acre parcel of property is known as a "balloon on a string," "corridor" or "strip" annexation which courts have held either does not meet the requirement of contiguity or violates the rule of reason. See Town of Mount Pleasant v. City of Racine, 24 Wis.2d 41, 127 N.W.2d 757 (1964); Town of Medary v. City of LaCrosse, 88 Wis.2d 101, 116, 277 N.W.2d 310, 317 (1979); Town of Menasha v. City of Menasha, 170 Wis.2d 181, 191, n.3, 488 N.W.2d 104, 109, n. 3 (Ct. App. 1992.) 8/31/97.
Why the property was bought in the early 2000s and how it was ever evaluated as appropriate for a school may be a fascinating question, bu it doesn't matter right now. We need to save that autopsy for later.
The UU site is unusable as a secondary school, and the most of the site will be sold, with the usable portion retained for long-term possbilities as an elementary school that needs a septic size system, not a full-fledged treatment plant.
The dog track site is very usable. The building is reusable and the structure was built to last. It has very valuable infrastucture (sewer and water) on site already. The location was designed for high-volume traffic. Environmentally, repurposing the building and site is the first best path to a new high school.
Vote Yes on April 3. It's the fiscally responsible choice not only for the immediate needs, but the future as well.
For more information on the referendum, go to VoteYesHudson.com. There you will find lots of background information. The Vote Yes Hudson Schools Committee is a mix of parents who have children in all levels of school grades in the district, and a few citizens who have "no skin in the game" but believe that strong schools equal a strong community.