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Tenants keep Briscoe School through school year

Ashland City Council renewed a lease agreement Tuesday with the Oregon Child Development Coalition for the Briscoe Elementary School building, 265 N. Main St.

The OCDC Ashland location offers pre-kindergarten and Early Head Start programs for children of migrant and seasonal farm workers.

Interim City Manager Gary Milliman said OCDC has expressed interest in permanently occupying the building, and staff have initiated the preliminary actions to explore the feasibility of a purchase and sale agreement to any interested party, including a new appraisal, action to determine that the property is ”surplus to the city’s needs,” and a planned land division to separate the school building from the park. For now, the approved lease extension grants OCDC occupancy through June 30, 2022.

Milliman said his recommendation was intended “to provide additional time for us to do the due diligence, to see if a transaction can be had, and if not, prepare for the next step.”

OCDC has leased the building since 2018, when the city bought the Briscoe property from Ashland Public Schools for $2.04 million, according to council documents.

The acquisition is funded by $500,000 in city funds appropriated to the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission, distributed in $50,000 annual sums for the playground at the site, and $1.54 million from the general fund distributed in $110,000 annual sums. As of July 1, the city still owes the school district $1.21 million for the property.

“The city is currently in negotiation with OCDC concerning a longer-term lease or acquisition of the property by OCDC,” Milliman wrote in council documents. “Additional time is needed to explore options, process a land division and update property value information.”

The playground, which is used as a neighborhood park, is slated for separation from the school building through a partition, for which the city is preparing an application.

Mayor Julie Akins clarified that the motion in front of the council Tuesday did not determine “the future disposition of this property nor school, it’s merely to engage in an extension through the school year while council decides what to do.”

“I just feel that in light of the items that are being considered with the property, that the lease extension is appropriate and prudent,” said Councilor Paula Hyatt.

The motion to extend the lease by six months passed unanimously.