High emotions over Eatonville school property sale

Fireworks flew at the Orange County Public Schools board meeting, with one member fired up about the way a decision over the sale of the old Robert Hungerford Preparatory School in Eatonville is being handled.

"I can't stand it anymore. I'm not going to sit here and take it anymore," said Kathleen Gordon, Vice-Chair, Orange County Public Schools board. "I can't sit here and let a little bit of land separate our love for this great town of Eatonville."

One of Gordon's concerns, that the people of the historic town are not being heard in regard to what will go on the 100 acre plot of land right in the middle of town.

"I'm going to fight this until the end, until there is some agreement with the people of Eatonville," said Gordon.

Eatonville Mayor Eddie Cole trusts the school board will keep the town's best interest in mind, but he does want to see plans move forward.

"I want to see some property that's been sitting for a while, be developed, how we get there, I'm in the car and I'm looking out the window of opportunity," said Cole.

A mixed-use developer, UP Development, was selected for the project several years ago; however, according to the board, the company requested extensions on the contract numerous times. The contract, expired March 27.  The board now has the option of requesting new bids for the land or sticking with the original developer.

Mayor Cole says the Town is in need of more jobs and a stronger tax roll.

"Even if that goes on the tax roll now, there's benefits of more ad-valorem taxes coming in, which will allow more services for the community," said Cole.

Cole hopes to see a contract signed by the end of the year.

"I'm looking forward to working with the school board and see where we go from here," said Cole.

No word yet on when the School Board will make a decision.