KSD buildings get attention of panel, hospital

January 28, 2004|GARY MOYERS

The committee charged with developing a facilities plan for Kentucky School for the Deaf turned its attention to what to do with unused property Tuesday, and there was more than a passing interest from one major downtown employer.

Harry Nickens, chairman of the Ephraim McDowell Foundation, attended the meeting and said the hospital has an interest in KSD property that may be for sale in the future, even though there has been no mention of a sale to this point.

"We are in a landlocked situation in downtown Danville," he said. "Any time there is land or structures that might be something the hospital could use to facilitate the advancement of medical services in Danville, we are of course interested."

Nickens said the property bordering Third Street is of particular interest to the hospital. "My presence at the meeting was to get a sense of possible plans for property, to see if anything becomes available that might fit with Ephraim McDowell's vision, and to identify a possible sale process."


KSD is undergoing facilities plan development simultaneously with Kentucky School for the Blind. Both KSB and KSD are owned and administrated by the state, and the state Department of Education acts in place of a local school board for the campuses. In conjunction with the facilities plan, stakeholders have been identifying program needs for the schools.

KSD administrator Bill Melton outlined campus holdings and building usage, including four buildings and approximately 100 acres of property currently unused. Two of the four buildings, which include former middle school dorms and the old gymnasium, front Third Street.

Two other buildings on the campus are being leased by other systems. One building houses an alternative day treatment school shared by KSD, Boyle County and Danville, and another building houses the Danville school administrative offices.

Tim Lucas, an architect for the state Department of Education, offered a pragmatic view of unused KSD property.

"If a building is not in use and is not usable, it may be a liability to the school," he said.

Mark Ryles, Director of Facilities Management for the state acted as de facto chairman of the meeting, and he pointed out the school is required to maintain insurance, utilities, security and other upkeep costs for the buildings, even though they are not being used.

Land grant history of the school is discussed

Talk of "unused property" generated concern from some KSD representatives on the committee regarding the issue of selling buildings or land. The land grant history of the school was brought up, citing the fact that much of the land was given to the school by the administrations of John Quincy Adams and Martin van Buren.

Nickens said if the state decides to sell KSD property, potential buyers should be aware of the KSD history.

"Those land grants bear names of some storied people in national and state history," he said. "Henry Clay had a part in the development of the campus. There is a tremendous loyalty to what many people here consider sacred ground on the campus."

KSD has sold surplus property in the past. Melton said the school sold 42 acres of land in the 1970s, part of which is the site where Danville's Admiral Stadium now stands. One-quarter of an acre was sold to the health department on Jacobs Street, and 14 acres on Stanford Road were sold for construction of non-profit housing.

"All the proceeds of those sales went to KSD," said Melton.

If property is sold as a result of the facilities plan, Ryles said, the proceeds would continue to go to KSD as mandated by an amendment tacked on to last year's state budget.

Tom Engstrom, facilities manager at KSD, said the committee will use information already gathered during the school's six-year comprehensive plan that was completed in 2003. "Some of the building usage information in that plan is out of date, but it does give us a very good idea of what condition the buildings are in," he said.

The committee, comprised of school representatives, state Department of Education officials, alumni association members and politicians, is tasked with submitting the plan to the Department of Education in April.

That short timeline means the group will meet every Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. in Brady Hall until the project is completed. It plans to hold at least three public forums during the process to solicit public input.

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