Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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January 15, 2013

District accepts 13 acres

Peru schools looking at grants for development.

PERU — A local business owner has donated more than 13 acres to the Peru school district that officials say could be used for athletics.

Russell Bellar, owner of Bellar Construction Management, deeded over the land, located in the open floodplain area just north and east of Roxy Lane on the city’s north side.

“I think it’s pretty wonderful that a citizen from our city has found it in his heart to donate this property,” said Peru School Board president Sharon Shuley at Monday’s board meeting, where the district officially accepted the donation.

Superintendent Charles Brimbury said the district isn’t sure how it will use the land, but it will likely serve as an area for athletic functions.

“This is very exciting, because one of the unusual circumstances that our students face is that there’s not a lot of green space for them. There’s not many practice areas,” he said.

Brimbury said the district already has looked into different grant opportunities to fund development in the area. Stanley Hall, the district’s director of finance and operations, will lead a committee to investigate the best long-term use of the property.

Bellar said Tuesday he decided to donate the land because he knew the district needed additional green space.

“I have grandkids that go to school there, and they all play sports. So I thought it’d be a good deal for the school,” he said.

Bellar said he plans to donate more property to the district in the next few years that could be located directly beside U.S. 24.

But developing the land could prove a difficult task.

Peru Building Commissioner Tom Harp said because the land is located in the floodplain created by Prairie Ditch, the district faces an extra layer of restrictions and regulations on what kinds of improvements it can build.

“It can be done, but it will depend on what they want to do,” he said. “It’s a usable piece of property. There’s just a lot of hoops they’ll have to jump through.”

Harp said if any of the property is located in the Prairie Ditch floodway, the school will have to receive permission to develop that area from the Indiana Department of National Resources.

Despite the possible hangups, school officials were upbeat about creating something positive for students and the community.

“It’s a great day in Peru,” Brimbury said. “Now that we have the land, we have a great opportunity to make a beautiful space for our kids and a great green space in Peru.”

Carson Gerber is a Kokomo Tribune reporter. He may be reached by phone at 765-854-6739, or by email at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.

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