NEENAH (NBC 26) — As NBC 26 has previously reported, the re-development of the Shattuck Middle School property in Neenah has recently stirred up controversy in a close-knit, historic neighborhood on the city's east side.
The Neenah Joint School District has recently been looking to sell the property. The plan is that a new high school will be completed for the 2023 school year, the middle school will be moved to the old high school building and Shattuck will no longer be used by the district.
One offer from Northpointe Development to turn the property into mixed-family housing expired on April 30th. Another offer from Lakeside Development to turn the property into single-family housing was recently rejected.
However, NBC 26 spoke with Tom Zabjek, the president of Lakeside Development, who tells us he is still in negotiations with the school district. He says the district made him a counter offer after rejecting his first offer, and says he made a second counter offer in response on Tuesday. He couldn’t tell us exactly how much that offer was for.
Tuesday night, the school board discussed the re-development plans in a closed session. However, the board meeting did include an open forum, in which several residents voiced their opinions. Multiple residents said they were in favor of Lakeside's bid, and asked the board to re-consider Lakeside's offer after the initial rejection.
The Neenah Joint School District released the following statement:
"We are not in a position to negotiate publicly. The offers in appropriate negotiations should remain confidential until both parties reach an agreement in order to create the most competitive bidding environment. It is unfortunate that Lakeside has chosen to continue publicly discussing matters that are held in closed session per state statute."
“You have 25 acres in the middle of really the oldest part of Neenah which is our east side and this is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to develop land that hasn’t really been touched in over 100 years," said resident Tim Florek.
Florek is in favor of Lakeside’s bid. He says one of the reasons he wants the property turned into single-family homes is so the tax revenue can go toward the school district.
“We have a district that has numerous elementary schools that have numerous maintenance projects that they want to take care of, we have a brand new high school that’s over budget already and it’s not even open yet," Florek said. "Why should we be passing up on the opportunity to increase that tax revenue to the district?”
While negotiations continue, he says he hopes residents can be more involved as the board moves forward.
"Our biggest concern is really involving the community in what is about to happen to this property," Florek said.