School may acquire property at bargain price

By Vicki Hyatt | Apr 14, 2017
This map of property that may be available to the Haywood County Board of Education was included in a recent newsletter sent out by Rep. Michele Presnell.

Waynesville — The Haywood County Board of Education could acquire a piece of property near Junaluska Elementary School if a bill introduced by N.C. Rep. Mike Clampitt passes.

House Bill 623 would transfer excess lands near the school and along U.S. 23 Business to the school district for $1.

The bill stipulates that the land must be used for educational purposes, including for parking and sports facilities. If the property isn’t used at designated, it would revert back to the state. The strip of land runs between Asheville Road and Junaluska Elementary School. Rep. Michele Presnell is one of the co-sponsors for the bill.

School Superintendent Anne Garrett said she was first contacted about the possibility several years ago when Joe Sam Queen served as the area’s representative.

Recently, Clampitt contacted her about the school district’s interest in the property and she also spoke with a representative from the N.C. Department of Transportation.

“I didn’t hear anything back so haven’t brought it to the board yet,” Garrett said.

When the idea was discussed several years back, there was talk about using the property where the former tomato packing house was located as an overflow parking area for the softball and baseball fields located near Junaluska Elementary.

“We determined we would need a bridge and money for the parking area,” Garrett said, “so there would be money involved in doing that.”

If the bill passes, the board’s buildings and grounds committee would consider options for best using the property.

Presenll said although House Bill 623 isn't her bill, she supports it.

"The DOT is trying to do away with small parcels of land," she wrote in an email. "It is next to Junaluska Elementary and possibly could be used for parking."

Clampitt said the DOT contacted hime saying they had no need for the land, and when he swung by to view the site, he found it to be close to the school and ball fields.

"It just made sense that the school board take possession to expand parking," he said. "I talked to the school superintendent and got the information to bill drafting."