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Board discusses Community Commons

Last week's City Council meeting has much of the New Richmond School Board and district administration stunned and confused.

At last week's meeting, the Cuningham Group, a consulting company hired by the city to evaluate three potential sites for a new or expanded library facility, recommended that a new library be built on the current library site.

"It caught us by surprise," Morrie Veilleux, district administrator, told the school board.

Veilleux said throughout the process, the school district was told that the Cuningham Group would meet with school representatives to discuss the potential of building a library at the Community Commons, but that discussion never happened.

"The Cuningham Group never approached us," he said. "It's hard to have a discussion when that never happened."

Veilleux said he, along with many of the partners housed at the Community Commons and members of the Government Entities Network, attended the City Council meeting March 11 and it was obvious that much of the group, including several City Council members, were not comfortable with the recommendations being made.

In the end, the City Council did not approve the recommendation made by the consultant. Instead, the group voted 4-2 to table the discussion.

Veilleux said he plans to meet with Mike Darrow, city administrator, Mayor Fred Horne and Scott Vrieze, library director, later this week to discuss the Community Commons.

"I don't know how it will play out," he said.

In the meantime, the board has decided to move forward with creating a plan for the building's future.

Veilleux recently met with Jesse Garza, a representative from Rep. Sean Duffy's office, to tour the community space.

"There are a lot of opportunities for grants and community development-types of things," Veilleux said. "People helping people is one of Congressman Duffy's big things he wants to do while he's in office. There are lots and lots of good things happening at the Community Commons. We're hoping a letter of recommendation from the congressman will be helpful."

Veilleux said he hopes to have more information available for the board after the meeting with city officials.

For the complete story, see this week's New Richmond News.