One of the primary rationales for the school board’s vote to close Hoover Elementary School was that City High, which is next to Hoover, is “landlocked.” “We can’t expand City without this,” the district asserted. “Adding Hoover alone is not even really enough.” To get that five-acre parcel of land for City, then, the district would have to close Hoover, even if that meant spending over ten million dollars to rebuild Hoover’s capacity somewhere else. The money to pay for that new construction will be part of the $119 million in bonding that the district plans to ask voters to approve.
Yet less than a thousand feet away from City, there was a five-acre undeveloped parcel for sale, called “Chadek’s Field.” The City of Iowa City is now on the verge of buying Chadek’s Field for just $280,000. That’s an awful lot less than ten million dollars.
If the district were genuinely concerned about City High being landlocked, and if it genuinely believed that even adding the Hoover property to City is not enough, why would it do nothing to pursue the Chadek property? Simply moving an athletic field from City to the Chadek land, just a block or two away, would have freed up considerable space at City. No matter how you feel about the Hoover closure, isn’t that a huge missed opportunity for the school district?
Fortunately, the land will go to the city, which plans to use it as a park, rather than to a developer, so the district could still try to work something out with the city to share the land. But since the district seems to have no interest in pursuing it, a big part of its rationale for closing Hoover is pretty hard to take seriously.