By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

After four months and $23,000 in legal fees, Del Norte Unified School District will pay Bill Lund what he asked for in the beginning: $243,000.

District officials and Lund came to a tentative agreement on the sale price of his land last week.

I think its crap that they can take my property, Lund said. But when it comes down to the bottom line I wanted to do what was best for the county.

As the owner of a two acre parcel next to Del Norte High School, Lund was forced to sell his land when the district decided it could be used for sports fields and a new building complex.

Originally, Lund spent $95,000 to purchase and level the land, with plans to build nine four-plex apartment buildings on it. He said those complexes could generate $39,000 a year, each - which he hoped would fund his retirement.

In July, the district offered $115,000, but Lund said he didnt find that fair and his attorney George Mavris called it a low-ball offer.

It was a take it or leave it type of proposition, said Mavris.

He said the district handled the deal all wrong by not sitting down and asking Lund what it would take to hand it over.

Hes old style, a handshake type of guy who wanted to figure it out informally, Mavris said.

Instead, Mavris noted, the district spent thousands of dollars on two out of town attorneys and one out of town appraiser, but ended up agreeing to pay what Lund wanted in the beginning.

Assistant Superintendent Rodney Jahn said in July he had a log of more than seven contacts with Lund prior to beginning the eminent domain proceedings.

The districts board voted unanimously to begin the legal proceedings at that time.

We had several meetings with him personally before any of this, Jahn said, and added he didnt feel the initial offer was low-ball. That offer was based on comparably priced parcels right next door, which we had acquired for $115,000.

Three other parcels in addition to Lunds and located right next to it, were purchased by the district without contention, Jahn said.

Eminent domain is defined as the right of a government to take possession of private land for the use of the public.

If the government wants a piece of property, they can take it. There are some requirements, but theyre pretty loosely construed, Mavris said.

Judge Philip Schafer last week ruled that the appraised price for the two acres should not exceed $237,000, according to Superintendent Walt Hanline.

Though local appraiser Donald Scholten found the land to be worth approximately $267,000, the court, the district and Lund have tentatively agreed on $243,000.

Hanline said the district has already begun clearing the land of brush to prepare it for grading. Exactly when construction will begin on the County Alternative Education Center to be placed there, is uncertain.