School district plans to buy, demolish Downard Funeral Home - East Idaho News

School district plans to buy, demolish Downard Funeral Home

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POCATELLO — A funeral home where a dozen decomposing bodies and 61 jarred fetuses were found a year ago could soon become a parking lot.

During a meeting Tuesday, the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve a letter of intent to purchase Downard Funeral Home. During a discussion, board members opined on options other than turning the property into needed student parking for Pocatello High School.

During that discussion, superintendent Dr. Douglas Howell made one thing certain.

“I don’t think we would want to use that building as any instructional space whatsoever,” he said at the meeting.

A search warrant was served at Downard on Sept. 3, 2021, after Pocatello police officers reported seeing a decomposing body in a chair. During an hours-long search of the facility, police and other officials found 12 bodies stored outside of refrigerators in varying stages of decomposition.

The building was filled with the stench of rotting flesh, oily bodily fluids and thousands of flies, according to recently unsealed court documents.

The owner, Lance Robert Peck, was charged with 63 misdemeanors following an investigation that to this point has lasted a full year and produced a court filing of more than 4,500 pages.

RELATED | What we know about Downard Funeral Home, Lance Peck and what’s next in the case

According to the school district’s letter of intent, administrators expect its purchase of Downard for $500,000 to be completed by Oct. 14.

Both the school district and Hansen-Peck Investments, LLC — the company that owns the Downard property — require additional approval and documentation prior to a sale, the letter says.

“This is intended as a negotiation device to identify and propose mutually agreeable terms (of the purchase),” the letter says. “The final terms, if any, shall be reflected in a fully executed Purchase and Sale Agreement.”

The property — 241 North Garfield Avenue — sits directly across the street from Pocatello High School, which currently lack sufficient student parking space.

During a discussion focused on using the Downard property for the construction of a parking lot, one board member asked if the district should consider other uses for the property.

“We would look at the options for the district,” he said. “It would allow us to have that space and consider what we might do best with that (property).”

However, due to its location and the lack of existing parking, a new lot seemed to be the direction the board is set on.

Jonathan Balls, the district’s director of business operations, said at the meeting that the demolition of the building and paving of the property would create approximately 110 new parking spaces.

The property is currently in foreclosure, however Hansen-Peck Investments has agreed to pay all outstanding balances with the proceeds from the sale, according to the letter.

Additionally, the current agreement states that the property will be sold to the district “as-is” lest the mortuary equipment, which will be kept by the current owner.

Among the items still in need of completion in the purchasing process is an appraisal — which must meet or exceed the offered amount of $500,000.

“The (district and Hansen-Peck) agree to use their best efforts to enter into the Purchase Agreement not later than September 26,” the letter says.