PJUSD signs on with new farming lessee
by Maddy Houk | Patterson Irrigator
Nov 14, 2013 | 1650 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Patterson Joint Unified School District board of trustees voted 6-0 at its Nov. 4 meeting, with Ruben Pina absent, to accept a lease agreement with Del Mar Farms to farm property on Baldwin and Zacharias roads, which were originally purchased for a second high school.

That decision didn’t set well with Patterson Frozen Foods president Angelo Ielmini, who went to the podium, threatened legal action and chided the board for turning their backs on Patterson Frozen Foods, who sold the district the 56 acres of land in 2005.

“Your decision to turn your collective backs on the prior school board’s commitment to build a high school “Number 2” violates the very reason this property was sold to the school district and exposes this leasing process as naked greed at the expense of our children and the community,” Ielmini said.

In the winter of 2005, when the property was purchased, the housing market was booming and students were enrolling in Patterson schools daily. The local school district purchased the land for the second high school for $36,000 an acre from Patterson Frozen Foods. In 2007, when the economic slump came along, the enrollment stalled, money was tight and new schools were put on hold.

Superintendent of schools Phil Alfano said after the meeting that Patterson Frozen Foods approached the district to buy the property, and in a separate agreement the district agreed to lease the property to PFF with a terminate lease clause in the event the high school was needed immediately. PFF has been subleasing the land to Del Mar Farms.

The district chose not to renew the PFF lease the third time and instead called for bids from the public. Del Mar Farms was the only bid received.

“Any party interested in submitting a proposal, including Patterson Frozen Foods, was free to submit a proposal” Alfano said. “As a result of this process, the district will receive approximately $21,520 a year for the property as opposed to the approximately $5,380 per year received under prior lease. That money will be used to further the district’s educational goals, providing increased opportunities to the staff and students in Patterson.”

At the district’s Oct. 7 meeting, the trustees voted to approve the purchase agreement to buy an 8,700- square-foot building at 530 Keystone Blvd, Unit A, in the same complex where the district office is located.

That building will be financed with a $1.1 million loan and will be paid for by rental from the Baldwin and Zacharias properties and rentals from shared use of the Keystone building. Part of the building will be used for teacher training, seminars, conferences and job training, while the other half will be used for storage for the food services department.

Meanwhile, a buyout clause is written in the lease agreement if the district should need the land to build the high school immediately.

“We know, by some point, we have to build a high school. We’re estimating it’s a minimum 10 years down the road,” Alfano said. “The professional development building is going to serve the community with workforce development and job training for unemployed workers. It is not an administration office. This is something we need in Patterson.”

Contact Maddy Houk at 892-6187, ext. 22, or maddy@pattersonirrigator.com.

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