OSWEGO – What should have been a simple business deal between Oswego School District 308 and the village of Oswego over a parcel of land needed for construction of a traffic roundabout has turned into a major brouhaha.
Village trustees accused the school board of attempting to change the deal and extort payment for the 2.95-acre parcel to be used for drainage purposes for the planned roundabout at Wolf’s Crossing and Harvey roads near Oswego East High School.
On Aug. 9, the Oswego School Board approved a deal in which the school district would donate the land to the village in exchange for a $75,500 credit against an estimated $162,000 the district would owe the village for construction of a traffic signal at the intersection, in accordance with a 2003 annexation agreement.
However, the district promptly amended the agreement to stipulate “Only to the extent that the village installs traffic signalization at the intersection of Harvey and Wolf’s Crossing roads.”
Village officials, who argued that the roundabout constitutes a type of traffic control system, said that this change would effectively wipe out the district’s financial responsibility under the 2003 annexation agreement.
On Aug. 23, the Oswego Village Board took the other deal that was on offer from the school board, which was to buy the land outright for $75,500. Trustees charged the school district with extortion.
School district officials sought to put an end to the flap Sept. 1 with the release of a statement.
“The SD 308 Board of Education agreed to donate the land needed to complete the Wolf Road extension project, following the village of Oswego’s request. In return, the land value ($75,500) would be credited towards a 2003 annexation agreement.”
“The proposed amendment to the agreement was provided by the district to the village less than 24 hours after the district’s meeting concluded, with an invitation to the village to reach out if they had any questions or concerns,” the statement reads.
The school district’s statement then includes a quote from Village Administrator Dan Di Santo.
“This is a mutually beneficial project. We’re glad the district is willing to move forward. This compromise is preferable to the village paying outright,” reads Di Santo’s quote in the school district statement.
This quote from Di Santo came from a published report by the Oswego Ledger, KendallCountyNow.com, which interviewed the village administrator by telephone the morning after the Aug. 9 meeting.
The school district then notes that the Village Board on Aug. 23 voted to pay the $75,500 to the district in lieu of accepting the agreement amendment.
“At all times the district has been willing to fulfill the terms of the 2003 annexation agreement and willing to consider additional or different requests if asked by the village,” the statement reads.
The statement concludes with a quote from Assistant Superintendent of Operations John Petzke
“We are happy to be partnering with the village to help move this necessary road project ahead,” said Petzke, who could not be reached for further comment.