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Batavia residents question proposed lease with ex-school board president

School board set to discuss lease Tuesday

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 9:43 p.m. CDT

BATAVIA – A proposal for Batavia School District 101 to lease a building owned by a former Batavia School Board president is receiving scrutiny from residents.

Batavia School Board members have directed school administrators to pursue leasing a building at 804 Main St. in Batavia owned by Ron Link, who did not run for re-election after a term that ended in 2013. A special board meeting is tentatively set for 6 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the lease.

The district is considering leasing the building to replace Batavia High School’s aging maintenance building. During a health and life-safety inspection of the 48-year-old maintenance shop in September 2013, Batavia School District 101 was cited for a number of violations and was told that immediate corrections needed to be made, including the installation of a sprinkler and fire alarm system, and to cover the foam insulation installed on the underside of the roof deck.

Those repairs are estimated to cost $130,000. Brown had told school board members the current maintenance building poses a risk to staff, and the district needs to make improvements in that space or shut it down.

As proposed, the district would lease Link’s building for $12,000 a month, with the intention of owning it in 10 years, Pat Browne, the district’s director of buildings and grounds, had told school board members.

Resident Yvonne Dinwiddie questioned the proposed lease. Dinwiddie said the lease would enrich Link at the expense of taxpayers.

“Whether it works or not, we will be ensuring that his property suffers no loss, as he will be guaranteed rent to the tune of $144,000 per year,” she said. “Meanwhile, other building owners are struggling to find renters. We, the taxpayers, will assume the risk while he receives the rewards.”

Browne said the current maintenance building is at the end of its useful life expectancy. According to the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute, the expected service life of that building is 51.6 years.

During Tuesday’s meeting, resident Sylvia Keppel questioned whether that estimate was accurate.

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