St. Andrew’s is exploring options for a small but crucial piece of land it acquired this month.
Last year, the School purchased a 15-acre property at 15900 Yonge Street. That property, known as Willow Farm, and the original campus both front on Yonge, save for a small stretch of approximately 150 feet immediately adjacent to the driveway.
This one-acre square lot, at 15858 Yonge, belonged to a resident who operated a kennel there. While SAC had long been interested in this land, it wasn’t until the owner approached Beth McKay, SAC’s Chief Financial Officer, shortly after Labour Day weekend, that a deal was put in motion.
“We had it appraised and we made an offer,” Ms. McKay says. On Nov. 15, the purchase was made.
“We’re cleaning it up and deciding what to do in the long term,” Ms. McKay explains. “We are considering options for the best and the highest use for the School.”
Currently, the property contains a house and a kennel, a gazebo and an above-ground pool. The pool has been drained and the house boarded up for safety and security reasons. A couple of downed trees have also been removed.
The uses of the land will be explored in the 2017-2022 strategic plan, which will examine future facilities expansion and set priorities for renovations and re-organization.
Discussions concerning the future of the new piece of property, which is considered a floodplain, will involve the Town of Aurora and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority. The Town owns a trail that winds between the new property and Willow Farm, which allows easy access for students through the newly acquired lands.
“It’s yet another opportunity to provide outdoor education and environmental stewardship,” says Headmaster Kevin McHenry.
Ownership of this new parcel will help protect the Memorial Gates and the image these stately columns present to those passing by, and prevent signage and other structures from being erected next to the SAC entrance.
This acquisition, though much smaller than last year's, is significant as it gives SAC continuous Yonge Street frontage from Aurora's boarder to the southern edge of the campus.
“I’m very pleased that we have acquired the ‘final piece of the puzzle’ along Yonge Street. Our campus is now 126 acres in size!” Headmaster McHenry says.
- In the aerial view pictured to the right, the red outline indicates the campus prior to October 2016; the yellow is the October 2016 addition; the green outline shows the latest acquisition.
Story by Julie Caspersen