Okoboji’s ambitious beautification project is moving forward.

But there are still several hurdles it must pass before construction can begin in Arnolds Park.

One of those hurdles is the old Okoboji middle School, which sits along the lakes corridor.

On Thursday the Okoboji School Board voted 3-2 to approve an agreement with Imagine Iowa Great Lakes, the organization behind a multi-million dollar beautification of the lakes corridor, to purchase the Okoboji Middle School property in Arnolds Park for $1.1 million.

A public hearing on the organization’s offer was held earlier this month when another interested party came forward with a $1.15 million offer.

Some who were at today’s meeting called on the board to slow the process down and look at taking another route.

“The point is, to me, is why wouldn’t the school board take this out and go through a public bidding process just to be fair, and why isn’t that part of your fiscal responsibility, if not ethical responsibility?”

A neighboring business owner spoke in favor of the board accepting the $1.1 million offer, saying she feels confident the beautification group will protect the integrity of the property.

“Their ideas have been presented at numerous public hearings and so I think people have a general sense to what beautification means to all of us. For us being adjoining property owners it’s important that this property be well taken care of.”

An attorney representing Imagine Iowa Great Lakes who was at today’s meeting said the property will be a key component to their overall $10 million beautification project through the lakes corridor.

Superintendent Todd Abrahamson says the revenue will go toward helping to buy down a $25 million bond issue voters in the Okoboji School District approved back in April to construct a new middle school and make improvements to some existing facilities.