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Jetvig says bond opponents trying to muddy the waters with criticism of his land gift

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Jetvig says bond opponents trying to muddy the waters with criticism of his land gift
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Loren Jetvig is angry at the "Cormorant Four" and other vocal Lake Park-Audubon School District critics.

Jetvig is the developer who has agreed to give 53 acres of land for a new 7-12 school in Lake Park.

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The free land has been a standing offer for the past couple of years, but this time around, Jetvig added a new clause to the agreement so that he will get his land back if the district ceases to exist in the next 20 years.

In an angry phone call to DL Newspapers, he said referendum opponents are the reason he added the new clause to the legal gifting agreement.

"When they can't start any other trouble, they start trouble over something like this, which is very innocent and very simple," he said. "If they are for the younger generation, like they say, why don't they step up instead of messing things up, which is all they're trying to do."

Building bond opponents, including Jim Lund of Cormorant and George Kohn of Audubon, blasted LP-A Superintendent Dale Hogie over the new clause at a school board meeting Monday.

The board tabled the matter and Hogie checked the next day with the district's law firm in Fergus Falls, and with legal counsel with the Minnesota School Boards Association, and both said what Jetvig was seeking was a standard protective clause that did not, as far as they could tell, violate state law and wouldn't hurt the district.

The intent of the clause, Jetvig said Thursday, is to regain his land if the district builds a new school, but it ceases to operate as a school within 20 years.

"I put that clause in there so that the land reverts back to me in case the school ends up closing. It isn't like they'd be buying the land back, there's a big difference."

The property is located north of Highway 10 across from the Cenex station, between the BNSF railroad tracks and the highway.

If the new school were built and then closed for some reason within 20 years, Jetvig wouldn't get the school building, but he would be compensated for the value of the land under the building.

If the school operates for more than 20 years, the land gift becomes permanent.

The district has had to scale back its building bond proposal several times, Jetvig said. "Then my concern is, 'what if it don't meet state requirements 10 or 15 years down the road?' ... that clause showed up because of their (critics') actions, making the school board and superintendent keep trimming it back..."

If the school were to close or the district dissolve or consolidate within 20 years, Jetvig wants his land back.

"I'm willing to give it up for the community and the kids, but not for somebody to stick in their pocket," he said.

"They (the Cormorant Four) sit down there acting like they care -- they don't care about nothing but themselves. They say it's a bad school board and a bad superintendent. No, they're the culprits. There's nothing wrong with this school board or this superintendent. We have a great district here, look at the academics they've achieved -- they've certainly done their job as a school board."

Jetvig has always considered the land donation an investment in the community. "Does it put money in my pocket? No. But down the line it pays everybody back, including Loren Jetvig," he said. "I want the schools to stay and the communities to grow. How good are they going to do without schools?"

Jetvig first made his land offer in 2006. It requires the city to provide a paved access road from the school to Highway 10.

If Lake Park agrees to take ownership of the access road, then MnDOT will pay for turn lanes and other improvements on Highway 10.

Otherwise it's considered a private development and the district will be charged for Highway 10 improvements.

City water and sewer lines are located adjacent to the 53 acres, and could be extended to serve a new high school.

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