A Note of Transparency
by Vicky Bell, School Board District 4
I would like you and those in Ocoee who were vilified by certain proponents of putting Evan’s new school in the rural settlement on Apopka-Vineland and Lake Stanley Road to know that there was an even stronger reason for not building a high school on that site. There was the equivalent of a bomb on that site. I know that many in Pine Hills were told that Ocoee and their Mayor were racist for not wanting the high school built there, and I know that was not at all right to label them as such. The new information I have received is that there was a savings of $12 million by building Evans on the original site. I was told this by a contractor who then followed that information with the fact that there were two high pressured state main gas lines on the property. By doing more research, I found that one pipe was placed there in 1959 and is 24″ in diameter with 810 pounds of pressure and a main Florida Gas transmission line as is the second line on the property which was put in the ground in 1969 and is 26″ with 975 lbs. of pressure per square inch. There is a 75 foot easement for these pipes. As I spoke against the rezoning of this property four years ago, I had no idea about these two pipelines. The contract that was made with Jabre, Inc., with Kurt Ardaman representing JABRE while Ardaman’s wife sat on the school board, can be viewed at the following web site:
https://www.ocps.net/fa/property/Owned%20Relief%20Sites/35.H.N.7_Evans_HS_Replacemen_Jabre.pdf OCPS paid $5.3 million for this property which was said to be worth that because Ardaman and Jabre Inc said they could put 150 dwelling sites on this less than 40 acres in a rural zone, see page 2 of the contract. OCPS should never even have considered buying this property, especially for a school and at such a high price. You can also see that in the minutes when this site was approved by the school board in 2005 that there was no disclosing of the zoning problems or the pipeline https://www.ocps.net/sb/SB_Minutes_Archive/2005_08_2.pdf .
Since I have been on the school board for the past four years I have been focused on education and spending our dollars wisely. I have spoken repeatedly about not buying property unless we know we can rezone it before we pay for it. Never having heard until recently about these major pipelines on property we paid way too much for really bothers me. This is what is written on the pipeline markers on the property: Florida Gas Transmission Co.—Emergency 1-800-238-5066
CAUTION GAS PIPELINE…..KNOW WHAT’S BELOW….FL One Call 1-800-432-4770
More pipeline information
I guess the big question is, would you want your children on a site like this?