Carson school superintendent: New appraisal ‘likely’ needed in Snyder property decision

The former Capital Christian Center site at 1600 Snyder Ave.

The former Capital Christian Center site at 1600 Snyder Ave.

After the passage of time since first bringing to the Carson City School Board for consideration in 2019, a new appraisal for the 1600 Snyder Ave. property “likely” will be needed before the trustees can make an official decision on purchasing the site, Superintendent Richard Stokes told the Appeal on Wednesday.
Discussion continued Tuesday at the school board’s regular meeting regarding the Carson City School District’s interest in buying the former Capital Christian Church property site as a school property and for public use, with Stokes providing two financial scenarios regarding conceivable operational costs.
CCSD is awaiting results from bond consultant Marty Johnson of JNA Consulting Group on its expected $11 million bond issuance. Stokes said the district has reached a point where it can sell a bond for its capital improvement needs, and such a sum from a bond issuance enables the district to build a new school site, remodel current schools or purchase the Snyder property in this case, Stokes presented Tuesday night.
Ongoing consideration of the 10-acre property since 2019 through its appraisal and environmental study processes had remained at a standstill for more than a year due to budgetary and longterm planning concerns and, in part, due to the pandemic since the property became available with a $5.67 million price tag. Then, it had been appraised at $4.19 million in November 2019.
Stokes and district staff members formulated two scenarios that appear to work best for the use of the property if the board proceeds with the purchase. The first is to open the performance hall and gym to public and district use, creating opportunities for the newer building originally designed as a church that seats about 700.
“It’s quite nicely outfitted and designed for meetings, performances, dances, concerts, etc.,” he said. “In a separate building, there’s a gymnasium, and, as you know, gymnasium space is often sought out for recreational spaces.”
The second scenario provides the same options and adds the ability to lease a non-hall building to charter school Carson Montessori, sponsored by CCSD and acting independently with its own governing board and Principal Jessica Daniels leading the school.
Stokes reached out to Daniels, who said she was still interested in a potential lease agreement if the district were to purchase the property. The school had been seeking permanent space since October 2019, and its enrollment at the time was 290. Montessori had said in talks with the district the school needs more classroom space.
The Snyder property offers 46,650 square feet in its total building space. Stokes said with safety, information technology and masonry improvements, some cost estimates were provided in both scenarios given utilities, custodial work, maintenance, insurance and other needs.
School board members still expressed concerns about use for the property and how to complete any initial work necessary before it could be occupied. Trustee Richard Varner asked about upgrading air filtration systems if the district were to rent or lease space to Carson Montessori.
Stokes replied the purchase does not include such upgrades nor improvements to the facilities’ kitchens, stating back then, it was considered a “very basic fundamental” purchase price.
“We began this conversation 18 months ago about the steps when we had to set up the agreement, there was the whole issue of price,” Stokes said. “It would take a little while before we get to the point where we signed it.”
He added it would take at least “a good summer’s worth” of work to be able to enter and occupy the buildings full-time.
Trustee Laurel Crossman said she viewed the site as a long-term investment and as a potential home for Carson Montessori with its plans.
Trustee Mike Walker noted Carson Montessori as a charter school is a “good partner” on which the district relies, adding he couldn’t see “in good conscience kicking them out” of its lease agreement.
“I worry about the cost of construction and how it’s continuing to go up and the shortage we’re facing,” he said. “If we’re looking at doing this, what’s it going to take to put a school there?”
Later, he added he felt he owed it to the district and to Stokes to begin making a decision on the purchase given the time that has lapsed since the idea of the purchase was first presented in June 2019.
“It’s only getting more expensive,” Walker said. “Let’s let him know and put the efforts where they need to be. We’ve been toying around with this nonstop, and it’s getting exhausting.”
Board President Joe Cacioppo said long-term considerations also were of concern to him, expressing the need to be able to “afford to get there” and keeping a focus on current expenses including teacher salaries and hiring paraprofessionals.
“There’s going to be upkeep costs, which I think we can absorb,” he said. “In theory, I’m in favor, but we still don’t know what the budget is for the next four to five years. All the purchase price issues aside, if this can be presented in a realistic way, if we can be cash positive or cash neutral for a period of time, I’m thinking of this as a long-term investment.”
The item was for discussion only, with board members receiving advice from real estate agent John Uhart who has been working with Stokes that the past environmental studies likely would hold up. Stokes, however, told the Appeal on Wednesday since appraisals last six months, a new letter of appraisal potentially will be needed.

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