The Mars Area School District will purchase land near existing district facilities following an agreement reached between several parties involved.
By a vote of 6-3 during a school board meeting on Tuesday, the district agreed to pay $2.1 million to MHY Family Services, formerly Mars Home for Youth, for 15.35 acres off Three Degree Road across from Mars Middle School. Board members voting against the agreement include Gordon Marburger, Bonnie Weaver and Steve Boggs.
The money used for the purchase will come out of the district’s capital reserve fund and not the operating budget.
The district originally wanted to purchase a total of 17.35 acres near the woods off Doc’s Way but agreed to a compromise that allowed MHY to keep two acres. Sources say MHY has an additional agreement in place to sell three acres for $1.8 million for the purpose of construction of a convenience store and gas station.
The settlement was reached as a result of hours of negotiation in the courtroom of Judge S. Michael Yeager and an on-site visit by Judge Yeager last week. The talks also included the Mars Area Soccer Club, which currently uses the land as a couple of soccer fields for area kids.
As part of the deal, the district will permit MHY and the Soccer Club continued free use of the fields through 2018. The district also officially recognizes the non-profit status of MHY and promises to never again move to seize land owned by MHY. MHY will also retain the oil and gas rights for the property but not the surface rights.
The district plans to continue to use the land as athletic fields for physical education programs and space for community activities.
Written By: Ryan Saeler for the Butler Radio Network