Several representatives from KARE (Kasson Alliance for Restoration) were on hand at the Kasson City Council meeting Wednesday night to question why there is such a rush to demolish the building.
Kathy O’Malley, who marketed the building for Counselor Realty and worked with Sherman Associates diligently to attempt to get a reuse for the building, said there are a couple of interested people working to put something together so the building can be saved. Aaron Thompson and Trevor Westrom, are attempting to put together a business plan to have offices go into the former school.
KARE member Bruce Prescher asked, “Why is there such a rush to demolish the building again?” O’Malley added that the building was taken off the market, indicating there is no effort to want to sell the building. Since there is no “For Sale” sign on the property Prescher said he believes the city is sending the community mixed messages. He then added, “Kasson is so unfriendly to development”.
Mayor Tim Tjosaas said even though there is not a “For Sale” sign in front of the building the city would be glad to listen to other offers. “There is an idea. No offers,” said the mayor. “We have seen no business plan, no financials. How much more time do we waste?”
The Counselor Realtor pointed out the 90-plus letters of support by residents who were in favor of the Sherman Associates project. Copies were given to each council member. O’Malley encouraged the council to read the letters of support for reusing the building. She added that this was the most letters Sherman Associates had received in support of a rehabilitation project they had proposed. “Those letters are the voice of Kasson,” added O’Malley.
If the 90 plus letters of support, 69 were from Kasson area residents. A council member said he did not believe 90 people could be the voice of Kasson.
Council member Matt Nelson said what he hears from many of the neighbors around the school is, “When are you going to take this eyesore down?”
There was talk of an injunction/lawsuit being filed to delay the demolition. The mayor then commented, “So thank you for threatening a lawsuit.”
From what the council heard early last year when entering into a purchase agreement with Sherman Associates, they were the best in the business. If they could not make something work nobody could.
The council did make a recommendation to approve the salvage of items from the school by non-profits. Members of the Dodge County Historical Society were in the building a week ago Saturday looking around.
There is believed to be pieces of woodwork, flooring and period doors that could be salvaged. The items can be salvaged at no cost by the non-profits, but these items can’t be resold. What is left can be salvaged or sold by the contractor that wins the demolition bid.
Items are to be salvaged by February, 2013. The pre-bid demolition meeting for contractors will be in March.