If anyone thinks it's a bad idea for the Eugene School District to sell up to 7 acres of its Roosevelt Middle School property to the Eugene Family YMCA, they didn't bother to share the sentiment with the Eugene School Board at a public hearing Wednesday night.
The only person to testify before the board was David Perez, the Y's executive director, who -- no surprise -- said he thinks the idea is a grand one.
"We really want to be a partner in this," Perez told board members. "We're taking steps now to move forward."
The board in March voted unanimously to move forward with the plan to make the property available to the Y. But nothing's official until the board takes final action, scheduled for its meeting on June 4. The terms of any sale would then be negotiated and eventually approved by the board later.
No potential sale price for the Roosevelt property has yet been publicly disclosed.
Some have questioned why the school district doesn't put the Roosevelt property on the open market in hopes of getting top dollar. Board members did not address that question Wednesday, but Perez offered his own theory in comments he made following the public hearing.
"I think they really see it as a partnership opportunity," Perez said of the board members.
The school district is planning to replace Roosevelt Middle School by constructing a new school west of the current building. Once the older building is removed from the southwest corner of Hilyard Street and East 24th Avenue, the acreage would be available for a new Y recreation center.
If the school board doesn't sell or lease the land to the Y, the district could build two soccer fields next to the new school.
Perez said after Wednesday's public hearing that the nonprofit group is eager to get rolling once the school board takes definitive action.
"We really need to know that we have control of that land, and at that point we can move forward on our capital campaigns," he said.
Perez said the Y expects to raise $15 million, and believes it could end up attracting 12,000 members to a new and larger locale, compared to the roughly 7,000 members it currently claims.
The new facility -- just a few blocks north of the Y's current complex on Patterson Street -- will feature a 65,000-square-foot main center and a 42,000-square-foot tennis and racquetball center, he said.
The Y is especially excited about including an academic achievement center, for formal and informal student study groups and tutoring, he said.
Perez, for one, didn't seem surprised that no one stepped up to publicly oppose the proposed transaction. "We don't anticipate anybody causing major issues around this thing," he said.
Earlier this year, Perez had said that the Y wants to start building a new complex as soon as possible and is not willing to wait to see whether the city of Eugene's Civic Stadium offer falls through.
The school board in February selected the city's $4.5 million offer for the district's Civic Stadium property. The offer, however, is dependent on private groups raising $3 million later this year to renovate the stadium.
"We're done with Civic," Perez said in March.
Perez reiterated Wednesday that the Y could start building a new facility on the Roosevelt site in 2016 without rezoning the land. The site is zoned as public land and can accommodate a Y facility.
The idea of the Y building a new facility next to a new Roosevelt Middle School has been around for a couple of years, ever since the school board first rejected bids by Fred Meyer and the Y for Civic Stadium in 2011.
Last year's voter approval of a $170 million school district bond measure cleared the way for building a new Roosevelt and other schools.
Construction of the new Roosevelt is expected to start in spring 2015, with completion by fall 2016.