Novi school district, city agree to land swap

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published October 26, 2022

NOVI — After nearly three and a half years of discussion, the Novi Community School District and the city of Novi have come to an agreement to exchange some of their real estate.

The school district voted unanimously Sept. 22 to approve a land swap of 75 acres apiece.

Superintendent Ben Mainka said the way the land was divided previously put school activities on city land at the high school and middle school sites, and that the 75 acres are very important to some of the district’s operations. He pointed out that the tennis courts had been sitting on city property and that there was an issue in terms of space where the softball, field hockey and cross-country areas were all previously on city property. Mainka said at the Sept. 8 meeting, where the board discussed the land swap, that the goal of the agreement is to bring in more beneficial lands for both parties. The agreement allows the district to have full control of its sites.

“We are certainly inheriting more wetlands than we will be giving up. So, if you are just looking at it from that standpoint, it could be a head-scratcher. The issue, though, is the land that we are getting is existing land that we need and is contiguous with our current property. So, I think it makes a lot of sense,” said Mainka.

City Manager Pete Auger said the city is just getting the title to the land right now and will be spending about $2 million to develop the fields for recreation.

“We’re looking forward to getting it to fruition. It’s been a long time in the making, and it’s a win, win, win. It’s good for the schools, it’s good for the city and it’s good for the taxpayers. So, this is a very good thing,” Auger told the Novi Note.

The school district will now have full ownership of the soccer fields, tennis courts, basketball courts and property to the east of Novi Middle School. The district will also acquire the land south of the high school baseball fields, including the current softball/baseball fields, cross-country trails and the wetlands.

In exchange, the city will have full ownership of Bosco Fields and be able to expand the Novi parks system. Fuerst Park will become slightly bigger as a result of the exchange. The park will gain additional acreage in the southwest corner of the park, near Taft Road.

“The taxpayers of Novi have basically owned this property for the past 22 years, so it’s really nice that it’s actually going to be put to use. The community has made an investment and now it’s going to be a recreation area, which you know we don’t have a ton of here. We are always seeking more,” said NCSD board member Willy Mena after the agreement at the Sept. 22 board meeting. “So, I just think this is great and I look forward to seeing how Bosco Field takes shape over the next few years, and I’m sure the city will do a great job.”

Prior to entering into the agreement, the district completed a lot of survey work, title commitments and purchase agreements. The agreement was drafted by the NCSD attorneys and agreed to by the city attorneys, according to the school district.

“I just really appreciate all the work and due diligence that has been done around this. I know there’s been a lot of behind-the-scene things going on where we are consulting and making sure that our ducks are all in a row, and that feels good,” said NCSD board member Bobbie Murphy. “I know that it’s been in the works for a long time, but sometimes taking it slow and making sure we get it right is important.”