The Finance Committee of the Winston-Salem City Council on Monday voted unanimously to recommend the sale of about five acres of city land near Fairview Park for a new Ashley elementary school.
In the deal, the city would sell the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools 18 lots of surplus property for $207,076.
The sale must still come before the full Winston-Salem City Council on Monday, but Monday’s unanimous vote from the Finance Committee is a strong endorsement of the sale.
Darrell Walker, the assistant superintendent of operations for the schools, said the city land, plus other nearby properties the schools hope to acquire, would be the preferred location for the new Ashley Academy for Cultural & Global Studies that the school system plans to build.
The sale would come at a time that the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem is hoping to win a $30 million grant for redevelopment in the area of Cleveland Avenue Homes, a public housing project.
On Monday, Walker told city officials that a school in the neighborhood could be part of the redevelopment effort.
“We realized it could be a pretty powerful partnership,” Walker said, adding that school officials have discussed what other things could go on the property besides the new Ashley school.
Those could include community enhancements such as a daycare or health clinic, Walker said.
“We have also had discussions about how to utilize our schools as community centers, maybe even invite families in after hours to teach them how to cook food and fresh vegetables,” Walker said. “Our intent is to be a partner in the community around this project.”
The tracts of land are vacant that the city would sell to the schools. The city bought the tracts more than 10 years ago, and in 2005 decided to sell them to HAWS, which placed a deposit on the properties but never followed through with the purchase.
The plan is for the city to now rescind that agreement to sell the lots to HAWS, and return HAWS’ bid deposit of $5,800.
The schools currently have no money banked for the replacement of Ashley school. Walker said identifying money for that construction is one of the tasks remaining.
In addition to the city land, the schools would acquire about two and a half acres from HAWS and another one and a half acres from individual property owners.
The property the schools would acquire from HAWS consists of some of the housing units on the west side of New Hope Manor apartments.
Walker said that the schools have offered to buy the HAWS tracts for $350,000, and that HAWS accepted that offer on Aug. 12.
Walker said the schools have options executed on five of the eight privately-held lots that it hopes to acquire.
Ashley school has been in focus because of concerns over air quality at the school. Last year, the public schools decided on putting in a new heating and air conditioning system as a temporary fix.
After the air quality fears were raised, a group called Action4Equity filed a complaint asking the school system to build a new school as quickly as possible.
People concerned about the Ashley school conditions attended Monday’s meeting of the Finance Committee.
They heard Council Member Vivian Burke of Northeast Ward say that she’s counting on the people concerned about Ashley school to be “the drum majors” for the project.