Waco ISD tables decision on Floyd Casey gift - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

WACO

Waco ISD tables decision on Floyd Casey gift

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WACO - The Waco ISD school board has delayed its decision on whether it will accept the gift of Floyd Casey stadium.

Part of the requirement of that gift would be to demolish the stadium. Something that could cost millions of dollars. However, there's not a clear idea of how much it could cost. School Board president Pat Atkins says that was one major topic of discussion in tabling the decision. He says it's a big decision and they want a clear estimate on how much it could cost.

The board talked about it in a closed session before their regularly scheduled meeting and then for an hour and a half after its meeting. At 11:25 members came back in saying they will table the decision. They then asked to get a proper estimate before the June meeting.

An Austin contractor says he would charge between $3-4 million. Owner of Southwest Destructors Ross Rathgeber also says the contract would a fun challenge to take on.

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Baylor University has offered to gift Floyd Casey Stadium and much of the land around it to Waco ISD, but with one big condition, the school district must pay for the demolition of that historic sports facility to complete the deal.

That will likely cost the district between $1 million and $2 million, and trustees will have to decide if it wants to think long term or focus on immediate needs with that money.

"It's an interesting proposition because of the amount of acreage available. On the other hand, we as a district don't have an immediate plan for that property and we're really not in the land speculation business," School Board President Pat Atkins told News Channel 25.

"Conceptually is it something we want to move forward on so future boards have options available to them?  We know land is at a premium within the district or is there more immediate needs money needs to be spent on?" Atkins added.

Floyd Casey Stadium sits on 108 acres of prime real estate in Waco.  Atkins says Baylor wants to keep about 27 acres, most of that along Valley Mills Drive and Dutton.  Another 28 acres is deeded to the city of Waco, including the Hart-Patterson track stadium and some nearby parking.
   
 Waco ISD can have the other 53 acres, including where the stadium sits, but TIF funds require the stadium be demolished.

There are other factors to consider, too.  If the school district owns the land, it does not generate any tax revenue.  That hurts both schools and the city.

But Waco ISD is landlocked without much room for growth, so spending a million dollars or so to get more than fifty acres of prime real estate might all for some flexibility in planning.

"On the other hand we do have some immediate instructional needs, we have other opportunities to spend money whether its on additional teacher aids, additional programs to improve instructional quality and schools within the community. And we've got to remember that's our primary challenge, " Atkins reiterated.

Thursday night the seven trustees will discuss the options and likely make a tough decision.

Atkins predicted, "I don't anticipate a unanimous vote.  I think there are folks on board that see it a long range opportunity, and folks on board that believe there are more pressing needs, and I see both sides, "

Ironically, a decision could come down to a deciding vote by Colbert Murphy, the newest member of the board.  He will be sworn in earlier Thursday evening.           
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