KEIZER — After St. Edward Parish here refused an offer of $1.75 million for a 6.18-acre lot of land wanted by Salem-Keizer Public Schools, the school district has proceeded with a lawsuit to acquire it through use of eminent domain.

The school district has filed a 40-day letter and motion for immediate possesion of the land. A court will decide if the district’s offer is fair and may permit the school district to proceed with condemning the land.

The school district says it requires the land for its expansion of McNary High School, which will include a new building for special needs classes, career technical programs, security upgrades and a new entrance.

“Although I continue to pray that the parties are able to reach a negotiated resolution, the parish also is prepared to defend its constitutionally guaranteed rights,” Father Gary Zerr, pastor at St. Edward, wrote in the parish’s Jan. 6 bulletin.

Lillian Govus, director for community relations and communications for Salem-Keizer School District, expressed appreciation for having the church as a neighbor, describing it as an important part of the community.  Many of the students and staff from McNary High School — and a board member for the district — attend the parish.

Eminent domain is a right for government to expropriate private land for public use. Salem-Keizer School District will have to compensate the parish for the property if the lawsuit is successful. St. Edward does have the right to fight the use of eminent domain if lawyers can prove the land will not be used for the public good.