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GEN mulls Commons options

During its most recent Government Entities Network (GEN) meeting, the gathered group of local officials discussed many topics, but most importantly they talked about the future of the Community Commons and the Commons Partners.

New Richmond School District Administrator Jeff Moberg presented the group with two options to consider and bring to the Commons Partners as possible solutions to the Community Commons.

The first option included giving control of the building and property over to the Commons Partners. Once the group formed its 503(c), the school board would sign over the building as well as the funds that would have been used by the school to raze the building. The funds would be earmarked to give the Partners a head start on raising the money they would need to keep the Commons viable.

One of the many concerns Moberg had with the first option is that he wasn’t sure the Commons Partners would be able to find the funds to maintain the building or pay for the extremely high utility costs the building currently requires.

In addition to Moberg’s concerns about the Commons Partners being able to pay for utilities, he also expressed concerns with the group being able to take care of any large problem that might come up, including emergency boiler or roof maintenance, both of which would cost the Partners more than it could afford.

The second option Moberg presented to the group was one that would see a new, more efficient and cheaper to maintain space built on the south lawn of the property that would house the Commons Partners and cost the organization in utilities. Moberg said the cost was estimated to be around $1.3 million for the smaller building and it would cost much less when compared to what the the current Commons utilities bill runs.

Building a new facility would also get rid of the deferred maintenance that is sitting on the Community Commons currently. It would also give the group 18 to 24 months to figure out if the Commons building could ever be viable or if there are any other options to keep the building standing by finding the money to make the needed upgrades.

By the end of the meeting, the group agreed that it would like to bring back in consultant Cindy McCleary of Leo A Daly to help develop a design for Option 2 to give the public a better idea of the design envisioned before pushing anything on the public. Moberg gave a rough timeline for the project with the thought that McCleary could have initial designs put together by July and then the group could bring the designs to the public as part of a public meeting in August. That would then give the School Board time to make a decision, if it wanted to, in time for the district’s annual meeting in September.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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