The Theler trails, wetlands and Community Center are part of the identity of North Mason. All of us have hiked the Theler trails and enjoyed the natural beauty of this unique place. Our son Lee found his vocation as an environmental biologist as a result of a North Mason High School class located in the wetlands and taught by a dedicated, visionary teacher, Karen Lippy.
The events that revealed Theler's financial situation and its loss of non-profit status (501.c.3) have required prompt action on the part of the North Mason School District. Our school board has the dual responsibility of protecting the financial assets of our district while ensuring that our students receive a quality education.
As representatives of the community, the North Mason School Board is committed to protecting Theler as a community asset – and we must do so without diverting taxpayer resources dedicated to the classroom. Over the past thirty years in which our district has benefitted by Sam Theler's trust, it has been possible to meet both of these responsibilities. Now that the trust is no longer supporting the community center, however, we face the challenge of reevaluating how best to manage this property.
At the June 17th school board meeting, the board voted to declare the Theler Center property as “surplus”. This action does not change the status of the property. For now the NMSD remains its manager. What the surplus designation allows is for agencies, both private or governmental that might have an interest in managing the Theler Center, to step forward. Without the surplus designation, no offer could be made because nothing has been declared available.
What might happen next? Here are two options:
1. If the school board votes to sell the property, it must be sold for no less than 90% of the appraised value and MUST have covenants and restrictions in place, requiring the new owner to honor all conditions of the Sam Theler will and provide classroom space to NMSD in perpetuity.
2. If the school board votes to transfer the property to another governmental agency, the receiving agency must also honor the conditions of the will and allow NMSD to have a classroom on the property.
As we consider these options, we welcome the ideas and suggestions of our North Mason community. By the time you read this, we will have held a public forum for that purpose. Thank you to those who responded to the survey on the district website regarding this issue.
As together we weigh the options for the future of Theler, we also take pride in the future our community has made possible through support of the construction bond. What once was the old football field will soon be the site of our new North Mason High School! The construction contract was awarded at a Special Meeting held July 25th and since ground-breaking, 24,000 cubic yards of dirt were removed so that the contractor could begin work. Stop by the site and visualize the beautiful building which will be approximately 600’ long and 35’ high!
As always, the North Mason School District Board of Directors appreciates the support of our community and welcomes your comments and concerns.
NM School Board
Director, District 3