OPS demolishing Midtown houses for new elementary school; neighbors upset

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OMAHA, Nebr. (WOWT) - Two homes are in the process of being demolished in Midtown Omaha.

The homes are in the Gifford Park neighborhood, less than 1 block away from Omaha Public Schools district headquarters.

OPS purchased the homes from Creighton University earlier this year as part of a land deal costing taxpayers nearly $3 million. OPS plans to use the land to build a new elementary school.

Some area residents are upset. Chris Foster, a board member on the Gifford Park Neighborhood Association, told WOWT 6 News: "We just want to be included in their plans and have some input."

For years, Foster has worked with OPS to bring a new elementary school to Gifford Park. He thought the district planned to build on several nearby parking lots. He told WOWT 6 News he had no clue plans also included tearing down neighboring houses. He said: "We hate to lose any housing."

Eric Purcell lives in the neighborhood and has children who would attend the new elementary school. Purcell told WOWT 6 News he realizes development comes at a price, but he also believes the area doesn't have enough affordable housing. He said: "Every house that gets torn down is one house that is no longer available for someone who maybe couldn't afford a more expensive home."

In a statement, Omaha Public Schools told WOWT 6 News: "The district continues to work with area parents and the neighborhood community association to gather input and feedback regarding plans for the new elementary school. Our goal is to balance the interests of all parties involved to design a school that will best serve the needs of our students."