New Palestine school officials add to large land area thanks to family donation

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New Palestine Community School officials already purchased 114.85 acres of land sitting at the intersection of County Roads West 300S and South 500W and now they’ve been given 1.714 acres to the west of that property.

NEW PALESTINE — Officials with New Palestine Community Schools recently purchased nearly 115 acres of land just outside of the town’s boundaries. The plan is to use the land for future district development. During the most recent board meeting district officials announced they have added a section to the property increasing their land mass area by nearly 2 acres.

Thanks to a land donation from a longtime community family, New Palestine Community Schools officials say they now have all the land near the intersection of County Roads West 300S and South 500W in New Palestine.

The newly donated property, some 1.714 acres of land, is on the west, or backside edge looking west of the already purchased property at the intersection of West 300S and South 500W. According to a resolution surrounding the property, the land was donated by the Gunst family, consisting of Teresa Gunst, Anne Gunst and David Gunst, and now gives the school corporation full control over what is developed in that area.

The donation was unanimously approved by the district’s school board recently as the whole board expressed excitement for the land donation after they accepted and approved a resolution surrounding the transfer of the property from the Gunst family to the school district. The measure was approved and signed by the school board May 14.

New Palestine Community Schools Community Relations Director, Craig Smith, said the land is along the same property line that the district purchased back in 2023 and was a piece of land the district had their eye on in that area and was glad to get.

“It is that strip of land on the west edge that we didn’t have,” Smith said.

Assistant Superintendent Bob Yoder, who handled the purchase of the nearly 115 acres of land from the Raesner Family Farm LLC, for a cost estimated at $3.33 million, stated he was very appreciative of the Gunst family kindness and their generosity in thinking of the school district when it came to doing something with the 1.714 acres in the same area.

The school district now has the nearly 115 acres coupled with the 1.714 acres at the coveted intersection, begging the question what becomes of the property and when will district officials develop it.

Smith noted there are no immediate plans to build anything on the land just yet, and should plans arise, district officials would let the community know as soon as possible, but nothing is immediate.

While district officials did not want to go on record to say what the land will be used for in the future, it was noted the property will be used for future school district development to keep up with the ever-growing and changing community.

The location of the whole property in that area would allow district officials to possibly connect someday to New Palestine Intermediate school, New Palestine Junior High School (NPJHS) and Sugar Creek Elementary (SCES) school areas which are along the back, westside of the nearly acquired.

That could one day give New Palestine Community Schools a massive school campus just northwest of town when the development happens. The latest word on any building projects the district is a part of has officials wrapping up their $49 million renovation project at New Palestine High School with word of possible renovations coming next to the NPJHS and SCES, but nothing official has been announced with either of those projects which district officials are on record as having discussed.