By Kim Walter
Valley Health is in the process of acquiring three quarters of an acre that currently belongs to the Frederick County school system.
The land is part of the 23 acres on which Frederick County Middle School sits, but the building is not included in the .75 acres.
Changes for the zoning title and boundary line will need to be approved by the City of Winchester, something that Valley Health is hoping to take care of at the same time, according to Todd Way, Valley Health senior vice president of regional operations.
Winchester Medical Center's campus covers about 168 acres, and the .75 acres lies adjacent on the northeast side.
"We're doing some long-range planning," Way said Thursday. "It made sense to get land that was already so close."
At its meeting on Tuesday, the Frederick County School Board approved a resolution authorizing Superintendent David Sovine to enter into negotiations with Valley Health. It also gave him permission to sign a contract on the board's behalf for a boundary line adjustment.
The board announced in December that a 38-acre site had been acquired to build a replacement Frederick County Middle School. The land is close to Gainsboro Elementary, and includes five acres that already belong to the school system.
Since the new school is slated to open in July 2016, the current middle school will need to be used until then, according to Steve Edwards, coordinator of policy, records management and communications for the division.
"There's no decision at this point as to what the old schools will be used for after the new school is available," he said.
No price has been set for the .75 acres, Edwards added.
"It's still very early in the discussion," he said.
Way said the land is part of plans for a new cancer center, which were announced last year. For now, the .75 acres is "all that [Valley Health] needs."
However, if more land became available after students no longer occupy the building, he said Valley Health might be interested in purchasing more.
The organization already has completed necessary paperwork for the boundary line and zoning adjustments. Way said the land is currently zoned light residential, but would be changed to medical center, like the rest of the hospital's campus.
Edwards said the relationship between the school system and Valley Health has been a good one, especially now that the organization plans to partner with several divisions through a health sciences program starting this fall.
"It's a very good working relationship," he said. "They support us by training and educating our students, and in turn we support them by possibly supplying employees."
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or email@example.com