Recently, I wrote a letter about the fiscal irresponsibility of Fargo Public School’s $7.3 million purchase for the new district office. Another aspect of this irresponsibility is that FPS purchased the RDO building without real estate representation, as reported by the Forum. Furthermore, they did not have a lawyer review the purchase agreement. The board wasn’t even informed of that.
Unfortunately, without real estate expertise, no one identified that the building had an outdated fire sprinkler system and lacked handicap accessible bathrooms. The building cannot be opened to the public until those are corrected. FPS administrators claimed that these sorts of things can happen when an older building is purchased; in fact, the district business manager stated that none of them “walked into the bathrooms to verify or check that they were accessible.” The previous owners were grandfathered in for accessibility but new owners would not be. This is exactly why the district should have had real estate representation when making this purchase, most especially at that price tag. Fire sprinkler systems and handicap accessibility are two rather critical pieces to overlook, so it is alarming that no one thought to consider those things. What else have they overlooked?
What business does FPS have making a $7.3 million purchase without real estate or legal representation? Perhaps they were trying to save money. But with the renovation estimates (for the known issues) projected from $487,100 to $971,695, I would say they, and ultimately the taxpayers, lost out.
Lyn Telford lives in Fargo.
This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.