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Business owner offers to trade land for future community center

Kitzman proposes swap for Brinton Avenue property

DIXON – The owner of Kitzman’s Lumber is offering up his property as the location for a potential community center, and he wants the School District’s Brinton Avenue land in return.

Owner Steve Kitzman reached out to members of the #Dixon Strong Leadership Team, a group in charge of helping work out the logistics of a possible community center, via letters from his Dixon attorney, Emily Vivian, proposing the trade.

“Specifically, Mr. Kitzman would be willing to trade the real estate located at 411 W. First Street, in Dixon, to the organization or organizations involved in developing a community center, in exchange for the approximately 70 acres located on Brinton Avenue, which is currently owned by the Dixon Public Schools,” according to the letter, dated Aug. 20, that Kitzman sent to Sauk Valley Media late Friday.

“The property located at 411 W. First Street is close to downtown and within walking distance for many community members,” said Vivian, of Ehrmann, Gehlbach, Badger & Considine. “With its central location, we believe that the property at 411 W. First Street would serve as an ideal location for a community center.”

City Manager Danny Langloss, who founded the team, said Friday that the location wouldn’t work because it sits in the flood plain, and they wouldn’t be able to build on it.

“It’s a good property, but it’s in the floodway and the location isn’t viable,” he said.

Kitzman hasn’t received any responses from the leadership team and has since put up his land for sale, he said.

“I applaud the committee on their efforts. However, for them to overlook this opportunity when the public is clearly against the School Board’s decision to purchase the 70 acres on Brinton Avenue using emergency cash is way beyond me,” Kitzman said in an email.

Langloss said the committee has not had the chance to respond to Kitzman but plans to contact him.

In July 2017, the School Board approved spending $1 million from its working cash fund to buy 73.5 acres of land at 1501 Brinton Ave., a deal that prompted heated criticism from community members before and long after the decision was made.

The property is used for agriculture education for Dixon High School students in partnership with Sauk Valley Community College, and the School Board had discussed future uses that included a recreation center or athletic fields. The First Street property is about 3 acres.

“The exchange of properties is equal in value, obviously not size,” Kitzman said.

The leadership team includes 15 members and is working with the Park District, city, School District and Dixon Family YMCA on the blueprint for a community center. The group’s meetings are not open to the public, but Sauk Valley Media was allowed to attend a meeting in July.

Details of the community center, such as what all it would include, how much it would cost, how it would be funded and where it would be located are yet to be determined, but the group has discussed generating revenue for the project by expanding Park District taxing boundaries, which has been a goal for many years and would require a referendum.

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