[nfbmi-talk] some blind news yr in reveiw

joe harcz Comcast joeharcz at comcast.net
Wed Dec 29 01:34:15 UTC 2010

Salem Hospital will pay $6 million for Oregon School for the Blind, plans parking lot for part of site


Published: Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 8:05 PM     Updated: Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 8:07 PM

Helen Jung, The Oregonian


Helen Jung, The Oregonian


Salem Hospital

has agreed to pay the state $6 million for the Oregon School for the Blind, a boarding school shut down last year after 135 years of educating visually

impaired students.


The sale, announced Tuesday, gives the hospital 60 days to conduct due diligence and inspect the 8.37-acre site. If all goes as expected, it would close

in mid-October, said Lonn Hoklin, a spokesman for the state Department of Administrative Services.


Salem Hospital, which borders the school's campus, would seek to build a 200- to 300-vehicle parking lot in the next year. The hospital plans to work with

community and local governments on future development of the rest of

the site,

said spokeswoman Julie Howard.


The sale of the school comes after the

state Legislature decided last year to shut down the institution

over the protests of students and other school advocates. Legislators cited the high cost per student -- more than $125,000 a year each -- and the dilapidated

condition of the school. The newest of the 10 buildings on campus were built 50 years ago, Hoklin said.


But a lawsuit challenged the state's initial plan to dedicate the sale proceeds to the Education Stability Fund. During the special session earlier this

year, the Legislature passed

House Bill 3687,

a compromise

 that settled the lawsuit and dedicates half the money to the Blind and Visually Impaired Fund, created in 2009.

The other half will go to the Oregon School for the Deaf, which remains open.


"We never wanted it to be sold in the first place," said Tyler Smith, the attorney who represented two blind students and other supporters. "But if it had

to be sold, we're happy that students are keeping the benefits of the proceeds and donations to help them in their education."


The closure displaced 24 students who had to enroll in their local public schools, many of which lacked the trained personnel to instruct a blind or visually

impaired student, Smith said, and the transition has been "horrible" for some, he said. Others who switched to the Washington School for the Blind are

doing well, he said.



the Marion County assessor's office lists the land and buildings

as having a fair market value of $12 million, the price of $6 million is fair, said Alex Rhoten, president of Coldwell Banker Commercial Mountain West Real

Estate. His commercial real estate firm was not involved in the transaction.


There are few potential buyers for a site like that, he said, noting that Salem Hospital is the most logical. The property has asbestos issues that must

be addressed. And the buyer will have to absorb the demolishing costs as well, he said.


"That's a big deal for Salem," he said, adding that the state would be taking a big risk if it tried to wait out the market.


Hoklin added that a recent appraisal for the state pegged the value at $5.47 million -- just under the $6 million price tag -- for an "as is" sale.



Helen Jung


More information about the NFBMI-Talk mailing list