Wichita School Votes To Exercise Eminent Domain

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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Update Monday, December 12, 2011

The Wichita school board is moving forward in exercising its power of eminent domain to condemn property for an expansion at Wichita's North High School.

The measure passed in a seven to zero vote, despite concerns of some homeowners who feel the school board did not keep them updated on negotiations.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The board is exercising their power of eminent domain to acquire 10 tracts of land near North High School and one tract of land at Pleasant Valley Elementary for bond projects.

Some families in North Wichita felt let down. They thought that negotiations were still underway to purchase their property.

"It's kind of scary 'cause we really don't know what's going on. We could be here today. We don't know about tomorrow," said Elma Najera-Flores, whose home is being condemned.

Najera-Flores said she has not had communication with officials since the Nov. 14 Wichita School Board meeting, where they adopted a resolution to condemn her home.

"Negotiations have been unsuccessful with us. That is not true. We thought we had agreed on something and then the next call we get is your houses are being condemned," said Najera-Flores.

She showed letters faxed to negotiators for the past eight months and felt things were moving along.

"We have made an offer. They said 'Okay. I'll take it to the meeting. We'll call you back.' And it never happened, so we haven't heard anything from these people. We know nothing of what's going on," she said.

The school district has the inherent power of eminent domain. It is the power to take private property for public use, after compensating homeowners in a just manner according to the fair market value of the property.

The district needs the remaining 10 properties north of the high school to move forward with bond projects.

Najera-Flores said she understood the expansion plans but was lost when it came to her own future plans.

"We want to know what's going to happen. We want enough time to be able to get out, when we move out of our homes. We need enough time for my parents to move them out," she said.

Her parents' home is also being condemned and she said it has been difficult on the whole family.

"We're all around here. They've been there for 30 years, so it's just devastating. It's just stressful."

Homeowners want a conversation with the board at Monday night's meeting.

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