The heated debate over South Bend's plan to transfer land to the new St. Joseph's High School goes to federal court Wednesday morning.
The city bought the Family Dollar store on LaSalle Street in South Bend for $1.2 million, hoping to give that land to the high school in exchange for the community's use of the property.
But the group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State wants a federal judge to block the deal.
The group says this transfer of property is a clear violation of the separation of church and state.
But the city isn't backing down.
The City of South Bend owns the now empty building. City officials want to transfer this piece of land to the new high school, currently under construction so the site can become the school's new football field.
But for months, Americans United has been trying to stop that transaction.
“You simply cannot have the taxpayers from any community forced to effectively donate to a religious school. In this case, $1.2 million of property," said Barry Lynn, the director for Americans United.
American United said it's a slam dunk violation of the constitution - specifically, the separation of church and state.
But City Attorney Chuck Leone said South Bend's $1.2 million investment is worth it. WSBT spoke with him a month ago when Americans United was threatening a lawsuit.
"We expect to have a very well defined benefit that comes back to the citizens of South Bend," Leone said at that time.
That benefit is the public use of the land.
And now there's a binding agreement between St. Joseph High School and South Bend outlining public use of this piece of land.
The agreement says the school will allow the city or other community groups to use their outdoor sports facilities and parking for community building events, such as Bike the Bend, Art Fest, and Sunburst when both parties agree upon use.
But to what extent the city will be granted use of the property is still unclear.
Leone will present this document to the federal judge Wednesday morning.
In this document, the agreement of services between the city and the high school lasts 10 years.
It's unclear what happens when the agreement expires.
Leone did not want to comment on the case on Tuesday and St. Joseph’s High School officials did not return our calls.
A lot of unanswered questions still remain.
If this transfer of land is stopped by a federal judge, what will the city do with the land? What will the school do? WSBT hopes to get some answers in court Wednesday morning.