Avoca Center Update-September 2017

Avoca Center Update
Released in the Fall 2017 Annual Review-Back to School Edition of The Vision

The future of Avoca Center continues to be an important topic of discussion for the Board of Education (BOE) and our community. After our October 2016 Open House, community members participated in several BOE meetings over the next few months to share their thoughts and ideas. Last December the BOE decided not to invest the funds to renovate the building and terminated the lease with our current tenants effective December 31, 2017. Fortunately Arlyn School and One Hope United have both been able secure facilities within the area.

In the meantime, district officials have held discussions with the Village of Wilmette and the Wilmette Park District to try to identify a mutually beneficial use for that parcel of land. Avoca also met with a private school to discuss potentially partnering with them to raze the building and use the site for an interscholastic athletic purpose. To date, we have not found any mutually viable options that make sense for the district or the community.

Other options that have been discussed by the BOE recently include razing the building ourselves and grassing over the area, or subdividing the property and selling a portion of the land to help finance its demolition. The BOE will be meeting with a financial planner shortly to discuss our current debt structure and potential avenues for addressing the internal cost of leveling Avoca Center.

We continue to look for potential partnerships regarding the use of that land. Financial assistance to raze Avoca Center could lead to a beneficial land lease for an organization that may want access to that area for an extended period of time. Interested parties can contact the Superintendent at (847) 728-4128.

The BOE has not ruled out selling the property to a developer for the purpose of building single-family homes, but we are open to creative discussions for a mutually beneficial use of that land.

The Board of Education has set aside the evening of Wednesday, November 8 at 7:00 p.m. at Marie Murphy School for a Community Update regarding the future of Avoca Center. We hope you can attend!

Avoca Board Decides not to Renovate Avoca Center

Avoca School District 37 will not renovate the Avoca Center, as decided by an unanimous school board vote at the December 15, 2016 Board of Education Meeting. Due to the large financial cost of renovating the building, the Board did not feel that it was a fiscally responsible decision. The district would be required to sell approximately $7 million worth of bonds, which would cost the district about $9 million to $10 million after factoring in interest.

Avoca Center is situated on a little more than four acres adjacent to Marie Murphy Middle School and is no longer in use by the District. The district currently leases the building to Arlyn School, a therapeutic day school, and One Hope United, a daycare and preschool. The renovation would require the district to lock in tenants with a 20-year lease just to cover the cost of the loan. Also, the renovation costs might have potentially increased taxes for residents.

Avoca Center is in need of major repairs as it stands with aging boilers, tanks and pipes dating from the building’s construction in 1957. The buildings that house Marie Murphy Middle School and Avoca West Elementary School also were built in 1957. Those buildings also require upgrades, and the district wants to prioritize the buildings it currently uses.

Avoca’s current tenants have been notified of the decision and served a 12-month termination notice, with an effective termination date of December 31, 2017. The district is not necessarily stating that the tenants must vacate within 12 months, but rather that the current lease will expire in that time frame. The district may decide to extend the tenants’ occupancy for a few months beyond the December 2017 date to help the tenants with their transition.

The district is currently revisiting many options, which have been given new perspective based on the comments and questions proposed by the community.  The Board is  still considering the potential sale of the property for the development of single family homes, but is also in discussion with the Wilmette Park District about a potential mutually beneficial option for the Avoca Center property.  The district has no intention of selling the Avoca Park that is behind the building. Those fields are utilized by Marie Murphy School for physical education classes, sports teams and school gatherings. The Park District also leases the fields for sports teams.

The Avoca School District 37 Board of Education endeavours to base their decision on the best possible outcome for the students and their responsibility to the  Avoca community.