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In observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, the Telegraph and Daily Gazette newspapers will not be published January 20. Breaking news and information will be updated on

DIXON School district considering selling Washington Park

DIXON – Many years ago, Washington Elementary School P.E. classes ventured across Assembly Place to what seemed like an endless field. 

That’s not the case now, and Dixon schools is considering putting the lot on the market.

Washington Park, as it is unofficially known, is bounded by Assembly Place, Academy St. and Institute Blvd.

It’s maintained by the school district, which mows about 3 acres of grass and cleans up trash from two ball diamonds, which costs the district “a few thousand” dollars, buildings and grounds supervisor Kevin Schultz said.

It has outlived its usefulness, though, and “we need to consider our options of selling Washington Park in the future,” Superintendent Margo Empen told the school board Wednesday.

The district hasn’t appraised the property yet, but any sale likely would be in the form of a sealed bid or auction.

The River Bandits baseball club, which has requested to use the space for next season, and the Al Morrison baseball league use one of the diamonds; the other seldom is used. 

In addition to overseeing maintenance and upkeep, Schultz mediates scheduling discussions between the two organizations.

“We’ve got better things to do with our time,” he said.

The lot is zoned R-1 for single-family residential units, and business manager David Blackburn suggested that if it were to be developed into a cul-de-sac-type residential addition, it could increase the district’s assessed value, as opposed to park district or nonprofit ownership with no property taxes paid.

Board secretary Brad Sibley would like to see it off the district’s books.

“How soon can we get rid of it?” he asked. “It doesn’t make any sense to maintain property that we are not using. If we still use it in 3 years, and Kevin’s guys are spending time to go there and maintain it, why are we maintaining property for the River Bandits and Al Morrison?”

Board member JR Humphrey asked if the district can consider leasing the property if a sale does not materialize, with a stipulation that any upkeep would not be the district’s responsibility.

Any timetable to a decision would depend on interest in a sale, Empen said.

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