News Column

Fort Madison Finds Buyer and Benefits for Jefferson Property

May 5, 2014

By Sarah Tomkinson, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa

May 05--FORT MADISON -- The Fort Madison School District finds itself in a "win-win-win" partnership.

Last month, Superintendent Kenneth Marang said he received a request from Fort Madison Habitat for Humanity.

"Tony Wolfe from Habitat for Humanity came in said the group was looking for land to build more houses on and asked if we could loan the Jefferson property," he said.

The 3.5-acre property adjacent to Victory Park on Avenue G was once the home of Jefferson Elementary School. It was torn down in 2008. The school board decided to sell the property last year and has it up for sale at $90,000.

Marang didn't make any arrangements with Habitat until the school board got an offer from Michael Mohrfeld, president of Mohrfeld Electric in Fort Madison.

Mohrfeld is developing 13 acres off of Bluff Road and was looking for a new project.

"As that got developed, we saw the need to continue on," Mohrfeld said. "We were drawn to this property years ago."

Mohrfeld offered to buy the site for a reduced low price, but also promised to develop the property.

"We'll be purchasing the property for $30,000, but we'll be taking on other tasks that come along with the property," he said.

The developer will take care of sewer, electric, natural gas and infrastructure issues.

After talking with Marang, the two sat down with a dual credit advisor at Southeastern Community College and Habitat for Humanity.

"The property would hold about 14 lots, so Mohrfeld offered to give four of the lots to Habitat for Humanity," Marang said. "He'll also be using our boys and girls in our dual-credit construction class to help build the homes."

Mohrfeld is working with Fort Madison High School's advance construction students on the homes he's building on Bluff Road.

Marang added partnerships similar to this are rare.

"It's a win-win-win situation. Everyone is getting something out of it," he said. "There's still a few things to be done, but its pretty much a done deal."

The school board will hear public input on the issue at its May 19 meeting. After public input, the board will vote on the purchase.

Marang said Mohrfeld is willing to donate money to the dual-credit construction classes held at Fort Madison High School through SCC after a home is built.

Students also will work on the homes with Habitat for Humanity.


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Source: Hawk Eye, The (Burlington, IA)

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