West Farm to Heartwood Preserve

Last undeveloped land in Millard is currently under construction

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West Farm to Heartwood Preserve

Kiersten Watkins, Staff Writer

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Within the next two decades, the 500 area acre of land Boys Town sold will be under construction in hopes of building a new “downtown” region.

In the past, Boys Town used the many acres as farmland to feed the children within Boys Town, commonly known as the West Farm. In 2017, the land was sold to Berkshire Hathaway’s Applied Underwriters Inc. for around 1.2 million dollars. The Millard School District was given a portion of the land to help them expand the Millard North campus.

The Boys Town Farm parcels were purchased by Father Edward Flanagan during the 1930’s and 1940’s, the farm was used to feed the children of Boys Town up to the early 1980’s,” Boys Town’s Director of Community Programs Tom Lynch said. “Modern health laws made it difficult to feed the children food that was grown or processed at the Farm. The land was kept during the 1990’s to keep development away from the village of Boys Town.”

Even though the land wasn’t being used for decades, keeping the land assured Boys Town that the residents would be safe. Preservation of the land meant delaying the sale and even now, there are guidelines created by Boys Town that must be followed in order for construction to continue.

With many companies already at work, construction has already begun on the large territory. The 500 acre region will soon be filled with restaurants, large and small businesses and many new living quarters. There is said to be stately townhomes, single family homes and a high-end hotel within the small area that is already under construction.

“There are many projects planned for the Heartwood development (formerly called the West Farm project),” Millard North Principal Brian Begley said. “Currently, there is a BMW/Land Rover/Mini Cooper car dealership under construction right along Dodge Street. In addition, there will be new walking and biking trails constructed on both sides of Pacific Street. This will benefit our cross country and track student athletes, among others.”

The sale is already benefiting Boys Town as the proceeds of the sale are helping pay for and maintain the buildings on campus. For the Millard School District, there will be an additional sales tax with the new businesses that will eventually lead to more financial support.

Image from Boys Town’s Finance Officer, Theresa Ryan.

For Millard North alone, construction will impact both the students’ and parents’ lives. By creating more space for sports teams as well as another access road to improve the flow of traffic before and after school.

Traffic has been impacted tremendously, and we have already seen improvement in traffic flow in and around our campus,” Begley said. “The new west access road to Applied Parkway will ultimately include a link with the bridge across Dodge Street at 150th leading directly in the Pepperwood neighborhood. This will be a useful and safe route for motorists. Also, we expect that our enrollment will be impacted in yet-to-be-determined ways.”

Production of more housing will bring more residents into the Millard North boundary. This influx of people will create more attention for the high school as well as additional revenue. Depending on the number of students that will be attending Millard North once construction is done, it is possible for Millard School District to change it’s boundaries again.

Although most people are looking into the future and what it’ll be like in the end, some students find it difficult to work around the developments.

“The construction is on the same road that I take to get to school and it makes some drivers unsure of what they need to do,” Millard North freshman Katelyn Handley said. “I think it will make things a lot easier when it’s done because it will give us more ways to get into the parking lot, but until construction is finished, certain things are more difficult than they used to be.”

When finished, the new developments will be easily accessible with new roadways as well as walking and biking paths. The plans for the new paths are for them to be 10 miles long and be on both sides of Pacific Street.

Another feature, a pedestrian bridge over 150th Street, will be built to help keep the community safe.

This expensive project will help the community in more ways than one. If everything goes according to plan, the Heartland Preserve will be finished within the next decade, bringing life to the last undeveloped land in the Millard School District.

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