When two neighbors want to exchange land, they usually don’t need a new state law and a court order.
They do when they’re a state system university and a public school district.
Due to quirks in how the land was deeded, Millersville University and Penn Manor School District each own a parcel completely surrounded by the other’s property.
Millersville owns a triangular 0.89-acre portion of the parking lot behind Penn Manor High School’s science and math wing, while Penn Manor owns a 2.33-acre athletic field behind Millersville’s Pucillo Gym.
The two schools have leased each other the plots since the mid-1990s.
“It’s a strange situation,” said Roger Bruszewski, Millersville’s vice president for finance and administration.
In 2011, the institutions explored swapping the land, but the notion was tabled.
Now, however, Millersville is upgrading the field to artificial turf and had to get permission from Penn Manor to do so. The notion of a swap was revived, and this time officials pressed ahead.
“It took a lot of effort and work,” Penn Manor Superintendent Mike Leichliter said.
As a State System of Higher Education institution, Millersville’s property is owned by the state Department of General Services. The department can’t sell the land without a state law directing it to do so.
Penn Manor, meanwhile, had to get two appraisals, and approval from a county judge.
It got the appraisals, and on Monday, Judge Margaret Miller issued an order endorsing the sale.
Then, on Tuesday, the state House gave final approval to House Bill 1945. It authorizes state action on 14 land transactions, including the one between Millersville and Penn Manor. It awaits Gov. Tom Corbett’s signature.
After that, the swap will be finalized, Bruszewski and Leichliter said.
The smaller tract is valued at $75,713 and the larger at $137,000, according to Miller’s order. Millersville is giving Penn Manor a break on stadium rental fees over the next five years to make up the difference.
The high school uses the stadium for football games.
“No money changes hands,” Bruszewski said. “It’s a win-win across the board.”
Hopefully, the swap makes life a little easier for future administrations, Leichliter said.