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PASD Answers Meadow Brook Questions

How did they come up with a price for the property is among the most frequently asked questions.

The Phoenixville Area School District is getting a lot of questions about the recent vote to purchase the Meadow Brook Country Club property.

UPDATE as of 9:00 a.m. Wednesday:

Following the posting of this article Patch received the following email in response to the Q&A release from the PASD:


The Patch: 

In response to the article in The Patch November 20 regarding PASD’s eminent domain proceeding against Meadow Brook Golf Club, Pat and Bruce want to let everyone know that we are not and have not been willing sellers.  We were always open to offers, but never stated we wanted to sell to PASD.  If the school board wants it, they should make us a realistic offer, which they never have.  It is true we have had discussions with the school board over the years, but they have never been willing to meet our asking price. 

Pat Campbell Young & Bruce Campbell


The following questions and answers were provided to Patch by the PASD:


Are the Meadow Brook Golf Course Owners willing sellers?

Yes.  The District has been in discussions, off and on, with the Meadow Brook Owners for over the past five years.  During that time, the Owners have repeatedly stated their desire to sell the property to PASD, as well as to other potential buyers.  As recently as May 2013, the Owners of Meadow Brook again initiated the conversation asking if the District was interested in purchasing their property.  In a letter dated October 24, 2013, the Owners rejected the most recent offer made by the District, but restated their desire to sell the property to Phoenixville Area School District. 

 

How did the District determine “Fair Market Value”?

As part of the District’s property acquisition process, a professional real estate appraisal was completed in May of this year, placing a fair market value on the property of $3.725 Million.  The District requested an appraisal indicating the “highest and best use” of the property; the reasonable and probable use that will support the highest present value of the property.  In this case, the highest and best use, for appraisal purposes, is for development of the property as a residential subdivision with 55 lots.  The appraisers looked at comparable sales in the area, market conditions, cost to construct homes, etc.  With all of these considerations in mind, the fair market value of the property at this time was appraised at the $3.725 Million figure.  In 2008, with the booming housing market resulting in much higher land values, the District offered the Meadow Brook Owners $8 Million for the property.  At that time, the Owners of Meadow Brook were convinced it was worth $14 Million, and negotiations stalled to a halt.  As we have stated, the District is committed to a fair outcome for all parties—the current Owners of Meadow Brook, the District, and the taxpayers—but, we have a fiduciary responsibility not to overpay for any property.

 

Did the District really look at any properties aside from Meadow Brook Golf Course?

Yes.  The District conducted an extensive search for suitable properties.  In December 2012, the District engaged a real estate consultant to assist with identifying properties of at least 20 acres in size anywhere in the Borough of Phoenixville, East Pikeland Township and Schuylkill Township.  In total, 95 properties were identified across all three municipalities.  Fifty properties (53% of total) were in East Pikeland Township. 

In March 2013, when the Board chose the construction of a new combination district-wide early learning center/elementary school as its long-term solution, an evaluation model using weighted criteria was used to rank the properties.  The weighted criteria included factors such as total size in acres, proximity to the center of the district, proximity to the center of East Pikeland Township, quality of road access, and ease of development.  The evaluation model produced a short list of highly ranked properties which were investigated further, including site visits by District personnel.  In addition, the District contacted the owners of the highly ranked properties to explore the possibility of acquiring their land.

In May/June 2013, two finalist properties emerged:  Technical College High School – Pickering Campus (TCHS-P) on Charlestown Road at Buckwalter Road and Meadow Brook Golf Course.  Both properties were pursued in parallel over several months through the summer and fall.  The pursuit included in depth conversations with the Chester County Intermediate Unit and negotiations with the Meadow Brook Owners.  After the elimination of TCHS-P as a viable site, the District was left with only Meadow Brook Golf Course as the site for the required new school.

 

Phoenixvillian November 20, 2013 at 08:11 AM
The school district is telling half of the story. I am a very close friend of the family who owns Meadowbrook. What is going on here, is the school district IS NOT OUT OF OTHER OPTIONS, they are just tired of talking about this subject. They have had like theyve said in this article, NUMEROUS opportunities to find another property to take care of THEIR issues. They have known about the increase in population for how long now?? They sat on their hands in most instances, and the others werent EXACTLY what they wanted. You cant just choose to take a property that has been owned by the same family since 1896. The school districts only real argument it seems is that the owners of Meadowbrook "offered to sell". This is false and true all in the same. All Meadowbrook did was ask how the PASD thought the property was worth to them. Isnt that a fair question to ask? IF I owned my great grandfathers car, and I was getting gas one day, and a man walked up and asked me if I was selling, I would be curious about what he was willing to pay too. MORE IMPORTANTLY, and this will all come up in court PASD members so make sure you REALLY are sure you want to spend more taxpayers money going through the court system, eminent domain from its core, is a option of LAST RESORT. You guys said it yourself in the newspaper "we are not there yet". You cant just try and take Meadowbrook just because your "at the end of your rope". Your just merely tired of talking about the subject lets be real. You have more than just CAT Pickering, but lets just say thats all you had. WHY CANT YOU USE IT?? "open ended liabilities" is not a good enough excuse to take a business from a family who has owned it for over a century. You guys moved next door over 60 years after Meadowbrook was purchased. Think about it.... We have.
Mummy2 November 20, 2013 at 10:01 AM
This is going to be a heated and highly debated topic; emotions are going to run high. However, you cannot hold up an argument that the property has been in the family since 1896 if the family has been trying to sell the property - regardless of who they are trying to see it too. And personally, I would much rather see an educational institution, which actually raises property values, then a housing development which will increase the over-crowding problem. Overall, I hope that the best and fairest decision is made for all involved.
Phoenixvillian November 20, 2013 at 10:37 AM
Mummy: Please read the update made at 9am on this article. Do not always believe what you see in the papers. It is a letter from the owners of Meadowbrook.
Mummy2 November 20, 2013 at 10:49 AM
I read it - "we are not and have not been willing sellers. We were always open to offers..." This is a contradicting statement. If the owners are open to offers, then they are willing to sell. And again, this is regardless of who they are selling too (whether it's a developer, a school district, or a single person). I am not taking a side; I just think all parties need to be very clear and concise about the language they use. I am only in favor of accurate information for journalistic standards so that readers can be informed fairly.
UpforDebate November 20, 2013 at 11:09 AM
I agree with Mummy2. Either the owners of Meadow Brook want to sell or they don't. Be fair and open at the beginning. I would rather see the school district get the property because the location and area make sense. Perhaps the owners of Meadow Brook should have their own evaluation of the property to see what the actual value is worth. If it was 14 mil 10 years ago, it may not be that same value today.
Horse November 20, 2013 at 11:29 AM
Here's a thought for your friend, Phoenixvillian...have them get in contact with Pohlig. They'll get a much better price from him and he'll have a much easier time developing that plot. Then again, who needs or wants another development. But, maybe by speaking to Pohlig the Campbells may get a better idea of what their land is really worth! actually pulling Pohlig into this mix may open his eyes as to what a BAD deal he made with the Reeves--maybe he can back out and start again...somewhere else!
Phoenixvillian November 20, 2013 at 11:40 AM
The following has been asked to be posted to this article so here it is so citizens of the borough fully understand what is going on: ​Due to over a decade of increasing enrollment, the school district of Phoenixville has found itself in a situation where it is imperative that they find an appropriate property to successfully accommodate the enrollment of future students. This issue has been apparent to the school district for some time. The school district acknowledges many missed opportunities in the past, when properties could have been obtained, had they not sat idly by. The land that Meadowbrook Golf Course sits on today, was purchased in 1896 by the direct descendants and family of the current owners, the Campbells. When purchased, it was used for farming purposes. Throughout the 1920’s, the men of the family passed away, and the Great Depression took its toll on the family farming business. In 1933, the family revaluated the utilization of the land in an effort to earn a better living, and built the golf course as it stands today. The Meadowbrook property is home to a historically registered site. During the Revolutionary War, the house that is currently used as the main office for the golf course was the home to General Benedict Arnold. Over 62 years after the Campbell family purchased Meadowbrook, Phoenixville School District decided to build the high school and middle school on the property adjacent to Meadowbrook. Since then, the owners of Meadowbrook have been open to the school district’s golf teams using the course. Due to high enrollment rates in the borough, the school district has been looking to acquire properties to expand the services that they offer. Among the numerous properties available for sale over the years that the district chose not to jump on, was one large property on the north end of Phoenixville that ended up becoming a housing development. Another notable property includes a development that was established across the street from Meadowbrook, approximately 113 acres, which trumps the current 55 acre Meadowbrook property by more than half. These two properties are great examples of the potential opportunities for land acquisition for the school district throughout the years. Due to the fact that the school district has done nothing over the past decade to fix THEIR problem, potential properties have been developed. Now, there only two main properties that the school district is interested in. One is Meadowbrook, and the other is the CAT Pickering campus. “If you’re voting yes, then you think this is the only option left for us. I don’t think we’ve reached that point”, directly quoted by school board member Joshua Gould, because he understands that the CAT Pickering campus is a completely viable option for the school district. Nonetheless, on Thursday, November 14th, the school district persistently voted to obtain the Meadowbrook property by eminent domain. “We’ve reached the end of our rope”, stated another board member who voted for the motion. This spiteful decision of the school district is merely a reaction to discussions that went bad between the school district and the owners of the golf club. The district is seemingly tired of speaking on the subject, and certainly not out of options. The hasty decision to obtain Meadowbrook through eminent domain will result in not only the loss of numerous jobs, but the loss of a family business that has sat on the same piece of land for over a century. Please look further into this situation so that these decisions are not made in haste. Myself, as well as many other citizens of Phoenixville, hold Meadowbrook near and dear to our hearts. Please get to the bottom of this and save a beloved historic fixture of the community of Phoenixville.
Bob Brown November 20, 2013 at 12:35 PM
Just to add to what was written on the history of Meadowbrook and something that many may not know. The golf course was built during the Great Depression as mentioned, but what many do not know is the course was built by the citizens of Phoenixville! How about that? The Campbells didn't have the money to build the course so we asked the community for help. Anyone that helped with construction of the new golf course would earn themselves golf membership including personalized locker for LIFE. Meadowbrook was built by the citizens of our community for the community. Meadowbrook has served the local community for several generations as an affordable public golf course for EVERYONE without exclusion. I think I can speak for everyone and say "thanks" to all that contributed and participated in golf over the years. I will be sorry to see Meadowbrook end up as something other than what it is today. I will add also that ONE of the reasons we went to war against the English in our war for Freedom was to get free from laws like Eminent Domain where government can step in and take our homes and property. It's ironic that Meadowbrook got its start defending the freedoms of our great country and now to have it taken by the government with the very laws that we fought to be free from. Is this really progress?
Phoenixvillian November 20, 2013 at 01:01 PM
Great comment Bob. Thank you
DJ2 November 20, 2013 at 01:12 PM
Honestly, as great as that is, I'm not sure it's relevant. Are the owners willing to sell? That question should be answered first with a yes or no. I don't see a clear answer to that based on the comments here. The next question is how much? If the property is worth "x" and the owners want "x+$", then I feel the owners are being greedy. It then doesn't matter who built it or when. If the property is worth "x" and the district is worth "x-$", then we have a different story. Let's not cloud the issue. You also can't claim "for the community" if you demand us taxpayers pay more than what the property is worth.
Mummy2 November 20, 2013 at 01:20 PM
I think historical and environmental preservation is extremely important. Especially in Phoenixville where tiny plots of land are succumbing to townhome communities. I would also love to see the preservation of the community we have in Phoenixville. Meadowbrook is a beautiful piece of property and I have enjoyed reading about it's rich history. But again, if preserving the historical integrity of the property was at the forefront of this, the owners never would have entertained offers on the property. And again, those offers could be from developers seeking to squish multiple homes on that property. I hope that the school district plans and builds a school that incorporates the rich history of the Meadowbrook land (and keeps some of those gorgeous trees!). What's more beautiful than young children at play, laughter, innocence, education... While I am sure it's personally hard for many, an elementary school is not the worst thing in the world.
UpforDebate November 20, 2013 at 01:51 PM
Well said DJ2 and Mummy2. There has been obviously some communication between both parties over this land. From everything I read, Meadowbrook wants more $ then what it is worth. Thank you to PSAD for not just handing over more then what is worth. 2nd, I grew up in Phoenixville and to be honest, this is the first I have heard about Meadowbrook and "history" in town. If people are so worried about "history", then should have the historical society come in and deem it history so PSAD can't buy it. It is pretty sad when you call something 'history' and I am 41 years old, and I don't even know about it. It just sounds like some are not open to change.
Horse November 20, 2013 at 09:20 PM
I also agree with DJ2 and Mummy2! But, Meadowbrook is totally steeped in History, and you almost have to be living under a rock not to know that. But you're right not to confuse those two issues. Either the owners are serious in selling or not. If not, then it's a shame and a real irony that it should be involved in a hostile take-over.
Bob Brown November 20, 2013 at 09:42 PM
Eminent domain = hostile takeover by our government for the greater good of our community
Paul O'Leary November 21, 2013 at 12:45 PM
I've seen the school board, our fellow citizens, struggle with the issue of where to build new facilities for years. It usually comes down to "not in my backyard". They have tried to work in a timely manner on this issue, but as we all know negotiations take an extraordinary amount of time. Unfortunately the student population is growing at very quick rate and time has run out. Sooner or later you have to make a decision, and it is now that time. Also, as much as I appreciate the historical sentiment surrounding the property, I think it still comes down to money. There would never have been an issue if the school board offered the asking price for the property. And for all of us who have bought and sold property how often do you get asking price.
Bob Brown November 21, 2013 at 04:14 PM
On asking price - for me, my wife & I got our asking price and sold my last home and paid more than asking price for current home because there was a lack of properties available in the neighborhood we wanted to live in so we ponied up for the spot we wanted and best suited us. But that was in a market system. Had we been able to dictate OUR terms and have the government back us up, we would have paid less than half what we did pay; which was fair market value. We have a fiduciary responsibility to our family to not over spend, but that excuse didn't work so we paid fair market value for our current home. That is what everyone expects to happen when we by and sell property. When the government steps in and takes personal property with price dictated by a few individuals, that's when I start to have problems. There's something called the 5th amendment which backs me up there.

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