School system looking to purchase land near Independence Middle

A member of a grassroots organization in Independence asked Tangipahoa Parish School Board members on Tuesday to finalize a plan quickly to buy land next to Independence Middle School to build new facilities for the school.

The vice president of Concerned Citizens of Independence, Larry Holland, asked the board to speak to the land’s owner about buying the land so the School Board could build new facilities, such as a track and gymnasium.

“If we let this land get away from us, it’s a shame,” Holland said.

The land is just north of the school’s campus on West Second Street near U.S. 51 in Independence, board Vice President Brett Duncan said.

Duncan, who also serves as Independence’s town attorney, said he has spoken to Concerned Citizens of Independence officials about the School Board buying the land.

Duncan said the board voted six months ago to buy the land, but the board is mired in the process of appraising the land in order to develop a proper value for the property.

The board has not developed any specific plans for new facilities on the land, Duncan said.

Board President Andy Anderson, whose district includes Independence, said the plan has been in the works for months and is almost complete.

He said any facilities built on the land would simply supplement the new middle school facility that opened six years ago.

Superintendent Mark Kolwe said the school system has developed an appraisal and was supposed to meet with the land’s owner last Saturday but the landowner canceled the meeting because of a scheduling conflict.

Kolwe, though, said he hoped the school system would be able to finish a deal soon. He did not give a timeframe for the completion of the deal.