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Rushford-Peterson discusses plans for repurposing facilities

By Kirsten Zoellner

Mon, Aug 25th, 2014
Posted in Rushford Village Education

Following a recent Tri-City meeting, and meetings with municipal councils and entities, the school board continues to discuss options for repurposing current facilities should the November referendum be successful. In doing so, the district has secured the services of Kane & Johnson Architects, Inc.

“There’s a strange emphasis on what we envision,” noted Superintendent Chuck Ehler at the Monday, August 18 board meeting. Ehler went on to note his impression that the cities are relying on the district to shape the direction of what happens to the facilities, especially Peterson. “We viewed it as a community resource. We didn’t want to have a plan to force on them. These buildings belong to the community, so we want input on our community members.”

Should the referendum pass, the district will not retain ownership of the Rushford facilities; however, it will retain ownership of the Peterson facility, minus acreage the city has to option to purchase for $100. The district could sell the Peterson building to the city of Peterson or developers or individuals for a negotiated price. “There are a lot of different options,” added board chair John Linder.

As for Rushford, Ehler noted that he had a sense that the city wants to be in control of how the facility is repurposed. “I have a feeling they’re not willing to let go of it.”

Kane & Johnson, Inc. has a history of working with similar projects and Ehler noted that the firm has an appreciation for older buildings and feels there are good, feasible options and is confident of the incentives for others to invest. Potential redevelopment options for the Rushford facility may include a library, community center, retail space, and condominium living. For Peterson, options discussed include a community center, arts center, and lodging to be used in connection with the city park.

The City of Rushford has indicated a willingness to share half the cost of architectural services provided by Kane & Johnson, Inc. Estimated fees are $9,650 in total, plus estimated reimbursable expenses of up to $480. Services will include the facilitation of two Steering Committee meetings to identify community facility needs that might be housed in district buildings, to document and assemble drawing-based sheets of the sits and building floor plans, and coordinate with the State Historical Preservation Office and Minnesota Historical Society, and will identify/contact private developers for cultivation of interest and investment in the project(s), including site visits with firms as required. Additionally, Kane & Johnson, Inc. will coordinate with Kasson and Chatfield for information regarding their respective similar projects which may assist in development of this project.”

The board approved the contract, with shared fees, in a 6:1 vote with board member Taylor Peterson opposed.

In related news, the district has received final tax impact figures from Ehler’s & Associates. The calculation for debt equalization comes to a 45 percent local match and an estimated 55 percent state match. Persons wishing to find out their exact tax impact for their property parcels may contact the firm at 1-800-552-1171 or by email at mnschools@ehlers-inc.com. Property owners are asked to provide their parcel numbers to get specific information

R-P teacher Jake Dahl has approached the board regarding the formation of a district organization affiliated with The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). An interdenominational ministry aimed at impacting the lives of others through the influence of athletes and coaches, the FCA has been a nationwide presence in athletics for 60 years. Dahl noted he was first impressed by the organization during his time in the Chetek, Wis. School District and it has always been on his mind.

“There are benefits for coaches, athletes, and families as well. The benefits are far and wide,” added Dahl citing multi-sport camps, opportunities for national speakers, and connections for student athletes making the transition to college.

The FCA suggests interested persons first speak with their local district and school board before continuing discussion with others in the community. “We’d like your permission to move on with this,” stated Dahl. The elective group would be run by a volunteer staff and would require no budgetary needs from the district. The board offered unanimous support for Dahl to move the project forward.

Eight persons have filed for three seats on the Rushford-Peterson school board. The candidates include Evan Meier, Len Strapp, Joyce Iverson, Trevor Auman, Dave Ansell, Dean Mierau, Jon Pettit, and Ryan Oian. The district will be sponsoring a forum to meet the candidates, Monday, October 13, at 7 p.m., in the R-P theatre. More information will follow. Elections will be held Tuesday, November 4.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting is Monday, September 15, at 5:30 p.m., in the high school biology room. The public is encouraged to attend.

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