Just when it seemed like the College Heights school issue was settled, State College Area School District is being taken to court.
On Thursday, C. William Garner, Helen Garbrick and Michael R., George T. and Edward W. Homan filed suit against the district to stop the transfer of the property to Penn State.
The five plaintiffs are heirs of Adam and Rebecca Krumrine.
The late Krumrines gave the district the plot of land on North Atherton Street where the elementary school now stands. The family, however, says the gift came with a string. If the property ceased to be used as a school, it had to be returned.
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The deed, dated 1926, shows the stipulation: “that this plot of ground is to be used for school purpose and a school building is to be erected therein by September 1st, 1931. If no school building is erected ... this deed is to be null and void and of no effect, full title to the property to revert to the granters, their heirs and assigns.”
But the school was built. It was used for 40 years, but it has been even longer since students learned reading and math in its rooms.
Its most recent use was as office space for the district’s printing services and curriculum staff, but even those are not needed in that space anymore.
Then, in January, SCASD announced that Penn State had made an offer for the property, saying in a statement at that time that “Since the district has determined the (College Heights) building is not needed for current operations, and it is not expected to be needed for any future operations, the board has made the fiscally responsible decision by proceeding with this offer.”
Penn State is set to purchase the property for $400,000 as the new home for University Press. What seemed to be the last hurdle to that process was settled this month when State College Borough Council voted to waive its right of first refusal to purchase any district-owned property within the municipality.
The Krumrine heirs, however, want the property back.
“Accordingly, because the defendant is no longer using the subject property for ‘school purposes,’ said property reverts to plaintiffs,” the lawsuit claims.
The family is asking for full ownership of the property to be returned, with a deed supporting that move.
Court documents also stipulate that the heirs should receive “immediate possession” of the property, “ejecting” the district.
SCASD administration and solicitor Scott Etter did not return phone calls Friday about the case.
Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said that the university had not been made aware of the lawsuit.
This is not the first time that the property has ping-ponged between the district and the family.
The Krumrines originally conveyed the property to the district in 1922 for the purpose of building a school, but ownership reverted to them when the district “failed to meet the conditions set forth” in the deed,” according to the suit.