CONWAY – A hearing involving the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council and the Northeast Woodland Chartered Public School over the lease of land used for outdoor classrooms, originally scheduled for Wednesday, has been postponed to December 2.
The hearing was sparked by an injunction filed by the school to prevent the Economic Council from selling land the school now uses, known as Lot 5.
Because the land the school uses is not being actively sold, meaning the case is not urgent, Superior Court Judge Amy Ignatius allowed the delay.
In its motion to postpone the hearing, the Economic Council said its lawyer, Debbie Lorusso Makris of Manchester law firm Getman, Schulthess, Steere & Poulin, was not available to attend the hearing on 13 October. In addition, the school lawyer was not available from November 7 to 12.
“The issue in question concerns a plot of land owned by the defendant and leased by the plaintiff,” said the Economic Council’s motion. “There are no offers to purchase the land at issue in this case, so the request for an extension will not prejudice the applicant.”
The school is located in the Economic Council Tech Village across from Merrill Farm in Conway and leases this land to the Economic Council and indoor classrooms to Granite State College.
The school has leases and options to purchase both the land and the classrooms currently owned by Granite State College. The Tech Village is made up of a two-unit condominium, the Econ Council and Granite State each having one unit.
The two leases with option to buy are contested by the Economic Council.
Beyond the technical disputes with the leases, the underlying problem seems to be that the Economic Council no longer wants the school to be located in its business park. The Economic Council, through its lawyers, said the children were disruptive and the school had broken its lease by allowing students to use open land and trails at the 61-acre Tech Village site. The Economic Council also says the school creates traffic and parking problems when parents drop off and pick up their children.
After the public hearing went public, Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), a staunch supporter of public charter schools, offered to try and negotiate a truce between the two organizations.
Bradley says he’s a longtime Tech Village and Charter School advocate. “This is obviously a win-win situation both for the school which is viable and adopted by the community, and for the Economic Council which is occupying the building and developing the property.”
Jason Gagnon, chairman of the school board, said Wednesday: âWe understand that delays like this are an integral part of the court process. The good thing about this delay for both organizations is that we can take advantage of Senator Bradley’s offer to bring the two parties together to find common ground and a resolution without continuing on the legal path – this is a victory for everyone involved.
âNortheast Woodland still believes that the two organizations have similar goals to strengthen our shared community and that working together will restore the most long-term value to the Mount Washington Valley,â Gagnon continued.
“MWVEC has already shown its willingness to adapt its vision of what economic development means by bringing the Avesta affordable housing project to vacant land formerly reserved for commercial use,” he added.
âNortheast Woodland is a natural extension of this tailored vision of economic development. Is there anything better than a school as a neighbor for affordable housing? “
Jac Cuddy, executive director of the Economic Council, declined to comment on the ongoing litigation or Bradley’s offer.