Friday, December 01, 2023

School: Blame the appropriate party

by JOHN GEDDES/Guest Opinion
| May 13, 2021 1:00 AM

To whom it may concern:

I am writing this in response to last Saturday's front page Press article regarding the CdA School District's recent sealed bid for the Hayden Lake School. I have never before responded to a newspaper article. However, as I was personally named in the opening paragraph with negative implications inferred from quotes contained therein and more especially, in the subsequent comments, I feel the need to take a moment and set the record straight.

As a lifelong Hayden Lake resident, and owner of one of the largest successful local ventures (Triple Play Family Fun Park), I was intrigued when I first heard of the CdA School District's request for bids for the school of my youth. I thoroughly read the publicly available complex bidding rules and could tell from the express language and tone, and the district's recent conduct with other "surplus property," that the district was hoping to cash in on the current skyrocketing housing market.

In my reading of the packet, I found that the CdA School District had specifically reserved rights to keep and piecemeal the school’s fixtures, including HVAC, toilets, etc. that would "run with the land" when a successful bidder demolished the buildings.

I was concerned and began weighing the probable destruction of the school with memories of my wife teaching in the same room where I attended Mrs. Hooker's first-grade class. I got nostalgic and thought I should at least try to prevent the iconic school from being demolished. I consulted with a prominent local businessman/philanthropist and came up with a bid that hoped to be high enough to win out over potential housing developers or cash flush out-of-staters.

Using a simple formula of the price of comparable raw land, less the substantial cost to demo existing buildings, a valuation was reached and then several hundred thousands of dollars were added to increase the odds of success. I meticulously filled out the forms, attached the money and hand delivered the packet to the CdA School District before the deadline.

When I learned through the grapevine that my bid was the highest, I was thrilled! Mission accomplished! My old school would be saved! Unfortunately, the next several weeks passed without hearing anything. Then on Friday, I was blindsided by an email from the CdA School District that began with: "Good Morning, I am reaching out because at some point you expressed interest in the Hayden Lake School …" it then proceeded to say that the board had rejected all bids etc. but that anyone could “re-bid.”

"Expressed Interest?" Really? Talk about an understatement! They might as well have said, "Sorry to inform you Mr. Geddes, that even though you were the highest bidder in the months-long, open-to-the-public, cash-only, as-is, sight-unseen bidding process, we are taking another, more informed, bite at the apple, at your expense, and are rejecting your good-faith attempt to save a Hayden Lake local icon based on a "not-for-public-consumption" appraisal that we choose not to disclose either before or after the bidding process but otherwise infer was significantly higher than your super-low bid."

If the CdA School District, in search of a few extra bucks, sells out to a party that demolishes the iconic Hayden Lake school, I will be as sad as the rest of you, but please place that blame on the appropriate party!


John Geddes is a lifelong Hayden Lake resident.

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