By Dan Hust
CALLICOON “We weren’t surprised yesterday when we didn’t get any bids,” Sullivan West Superintendent Ken Hilton related on Tuesday.
No calls, no inquiries had been received by the district in the weeks since it had announced the sale of approximately 60 acres of land adjacent to the former Delaware Valley school in Callicoon.
Once part of the campus, the acreage was separated from the school and bus garage when SW put the buildings up for sale last year.
Developer Ilwon Kang successfully bid $3 million for both the DV and Narrowsburg schools, and he was expected to be the sole bidder for the DV property.
But when the bid deadline arrived on Monday, there was nothing for Hilton to open.
He thinks that’s because the minimum required bid $400,000, based on the appraised value was higher than anyone wanted to pay.
Kang confirmed that.
“My opinion was the minimum required bid was high,” he said on Tuesday. “... The appraisal in 2009 did not separate the mineral rights from the actual value of the land.”
The district reserved its rights to the oil and gas deposits below the vacant acreage, though it would only be able to access them through off-site drilling.
Kang wants the land as a buffer in case gas drilling comes to the area, as he hopes to create a boarding school at DV.
He said he accepted there was a risk in not submitting a bid.
“We did not think anyone else would bid,” he remarked.
He indicated he’ll put in a bid, however, if the district removes the minimum bid requirement.
Hilton said that’s what he plans to recommend to the board, which is scheduled to meet next Thursday for a budget worksession.
“Everything else,” he said of the rest of the bid requirements, “will stay the same.”
That includes the board’s right to reject any bid for any reason, specifically in case of lowball offers.
Hilton said the goal will be to get the best price for the land but get it off the district’s hands and budget.
Fourteen acres of SW property near the Narrowsburg school are also up for sale, with bids due April 11. Hilton confirmed that there is no minimum bid requirement for that acreage.
Kang is expected to bid on that property, as well. In the meantime, he said he’s continuing his due diligence on the Narrowsburg and DV schools. Though his bids for those campuses were accepted by the SW board, he has until early May to determine whether to go through with the purchase or not.