The price tag for the acquisition and development of the Bancroft property is likely to rise next week after school district officials unveil their plans in a joint meeting with the Haddonfield Board of Commissioners.
"It’s more expensive than what the borough put out because you get a lot more value there with the dollars," Steve Weinstein, the school board president said Friday. "We’ll talk specifics about money on Wednesday night."
The joint meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the auditorium at the , 242 Kings Highway East.
The borough released a cost study for the acquisition last month. The price was $19.52 million, $14.27 of which would be financed through tax dollars. That would mean a typical taxpayer with a home assessed at the borough average of $491,000 would pay an additional $271 a year in taxes for the next 20 years. The typical property tax bill in the borough is $12,000 yearly.
The estimate includes nearly $4 million in state and county grants and $500,000 in money collected from a borough open-space tax toward the $19.52 million cost. Only about $500,000 in grants have been specifically committed to the project to date.
The borough calculations did not include a new library and learning center the school board wants and additional field improvements, such as more fields than were included by the borough and artificial turf coverings for the fields.
School officials also said Friday that Lullworth Hall, a historic home on the 18.7-acre property, could be leased. The borough plan calls for it to be sold. Officials also speculated that up to 20 planned affordable housing units in the borough plans could be relocated to the district's Radnor Avenue fields, which would be sold to help pay for improvements on the Bancroft site adjacent to the high school.
Weinstein said he and other school officials have spoken to library trustees who have been actively pitching plans to replace the nearly 100-year-old building on Haddon Avenue and Tanner Street. But he cautioned that their interest in sharing a joint library with the high school has not yet been determined.
Both the borough and the school plans call for open space adjacent to Cooper River Park at the rear of the property that will include a 1-mile walking trail.
"I think it's up to the community to communicate with the commissioners if there's a consensus forming for it," Weinstein said. "I think a lot of people are going to be excited by it. It doesn't solve everybody's problem. Cost is an important thing.
"It would be nice after all this process if we can all come together around one idea and work together."
The Bancroft redevelopment has been a potentially divisive topic for more than a decade. The debate has been framed by whether to use the property for more open space, a high-school expansion and more athletic fields or for tax-generating businesses or housing. Borough commissioners had favored a plan to build an assisted-living retirement complex on the site, but a public backlash about "high-density" development forced them to scrap the plan and start over last December.
The commissioners are currently considering three development options that include a public purchase, like the school board wants, market-rate townhomes or independent-living homes for senior citizens.
The property has been owned for the last 128 years by an institution established by Margaret Bancroft to rehabilitate people with developmental disabilities. Bancroft today is a national leader in treatments for brain injuries. Officials there need to upgrade facilities and have leaned toward selling its property in Haddonfield and relocating to do it.
Bancroft, a nonprofit, currently pays no municipal taxes.