St. Edward agrees to sell Salem-Keizer vacant land for $2.26 million, ending eminent domain case

Vacant land now owned by St. Edward Catholic Church will soon be part of McNary High School. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Keizer’s Catholic church has agreed to sell about six acres of land to the Salem-Keizer School District, ending a legal battle over the property.

District leaders said Thursday they’d reached an agreement to purchase the bare land adjacent to McNary High School for $2.26 million and will take possession on Feb. 19, allowing them to begin permitting and finalize the design for the school’s planned expansion.

“We recognize that like schools, churches are the hubs of the communities they serve, and we look forward to being good neighbors and partners,” Salem-Keizer Superintendent Christy Perry said in a statement. “We appreciate their professionalism through this process.”

The district will also pay the church’s legal fees.

The land will be used for athletic fields and a roadway for special education buses to reach the school. McNary’s existing athletic fields will be built over as the building expands.

The settlement ends a district lawsuit filed in late December seeking to condemn the land and acquire it by eminent domain. Before filing that suit, district officials in November offered St. Edward $1.75 million for the property, which church leaders rejected.

That offer came after more than a year of discussions over a possible sale failed to produce an agreement.

In a court hearing in January, church attorneys argued the amount was insufficient and didn’t take into account that the sale would harm the value of their remaining land.

St. Edward built a new church in 2014 and serves a growing congregation of about 1,200 in the Keizer area. At a school board meeting in November, some parishioners said they were worried the district’s acquisition of the land would disrupt the peaceful atmosphere at the church.

Construction at McNary is scheduled to begin in June.

Reporter Rachel Alexander: (503) 575-1241 or [email protected]

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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.