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Update: SJUSD moves forward with plan to sell old Sylvan school site

Sylvan
The 13-acre lot at Sylvan Corners had been used to house the old Sylvan Middle School Property, which was demolished this year. // Credit: Google Maps

Sentinel staff report–
Another step has been made in the long-anticipated sale of the 13-acre now-vacant property at Sylvan Corners in Citrus Heights, once home to Sylvan Middle School.

Following a committee recommendation and an uneventful Sept. 26 public hearing, at which no members of the public spoke, San Juan Unified School District Board members unanimously voted to declare the site as “surplus property,” a necessary legal step before the property can be sold.

An Oct. 3 email update from the District said the next step will be for terms of a proposed sale to be brought to the Board for approval.

Although the future owner of the site is still to be determined, the Board stated that priority should be given to “multi-purpose uses” and clarified that public agencies, like the City of Citrus Heights or other interested agencies, will have the first chance to nab the property. The Board’s approved resolution states the District “wishes to first consider disposition of the property to another public entity in accordance with applicable law,” but sale to the general public will be opened up, “if disposition of the property to another public entity cannot be accomplished.”

The City of Citrus Heights is anticipated to make an offer on the property, but city officials have not confirmed an offer has been made. As reported by The Sentinel in April, Mayor Jeff Slowey said the city “would like to buy the property,” with an intent to then sell it in order to have a greater say in who develops the property in the future.

Asked for an update last week on any effort to acquire the Sylvan site, city manager’s office spokeswoman Katherine Cooley said she did not have any comment. Cooley, who was recently promoted to the position of assistant to the city manager, only confirmed the city is “definitely interested in, and cares about, what goes on in that important location that’s located in the center of the city.”

Vice Mayor Steve Miller told The Sentinel on Saturday he was “not aware of” any offer being made by the city to purchase the site, but confirmed “there’s been general overall discussion” about the city buying and selling the site. The city also held a closed-session meeting regarding property negotiations and the Sylvan site in March, but Miller said he was not able to comment on the discussion.

Asked what he’d like to see develop at Sylvan Corners, Miller said the city is “over-saturated” with retail, but mentioned a medical office building or “mixed-use housing” as possible best uses. The vice mayor said any future use will require a zoning change, which is where he believes the city “will have a little control over our destiny,” even if it doesn’t directly purchase the property.

In public comments and letters, community members have suggested future uses for the property ranging from a sports complex, neighborhood market, dog park and even an expansion area for the adjacent cemetery.

Related: Letters: homeless shelter, cemetery expansion, Citrus Heights dog park?”

Asked previously about a sports complex at the site, Mayor Slowey said while such a use would improve the quality of life in the city, “it doesn’t contribute to the city in other ways,” referring to economic aspects. Vice Mayor Miller also seemed more inclined to support other uses when asked about a dog park at the location, saying C-bar-C already serves as a good dog park in the city and “not sure we need another.”

Miller also said a parks-type use for the site would mean the Sunrise Recreation and Park District would have to purchase the site. Although the district qualifies for priority as a public agency, he said such a move would be unlikely with the park district’s current budget.

The vice mayor tempered his comments somewhat, stating that any talk about specific future use of the property is “a little preliminary.”

“It’s all speculation at this point.”

Share your thoughts on the future of Sylvan Corners: Click here to submit a letter to the editor for publication.

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