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Our View: Commons decision needs to be made now

At Monday night’s New Richmond School District Board of Education work session meeting, District Administrator Jeff Moberg reported to the board that one of the two boilers at the Community Commons had recently broken down and would need to be repaired or replaced.

Luckily for the board, the boiler’s breakdown came just as the weather has started to swing toward spring and higher temperatures. According to Moberg, the single boiler will be alright for the time being, but it will not be able to sustain the building come winter.

Although Moberg and Director of Fiscal and Building Operations Brian Johnston stated that they are looking at options to fix or replace the broken boiler, it seems like this most recent needed repair to the Commons should be a sign to the School Board of things to come. The Commons is in disrepair and needs to either have a complete overhaul to upgrade all the building’s systems or be torn down. Another option is for the board to sell the property and be rid of it once and for all.

This latest needed repair should be a sign to the board that action needs to be taken sooner rather than later. That is not to say that the board should rush into a decision or not explore all the options available, but it does mean it needs to make decisions before something else breaks and takes the decision out of the board’s hands.

Right now, the plan is for Moberg and Johnston to look at possible fixes for the boiler, including replacing it, and bring back the options and costs to the board for its April 21 meeting. However, even if the boiler is fixed, it is just a short-term solution to a problem the board has been talking about for quite a while without making any kind of decision.

Moberg himself told the board that he hoped the boiler breakdown will make it clear to the New Richmond community that a solution needs to be found for the Commons and that “If this doesn’t rally people to find a solution to what to do with the Community Commons, I don’t know what would.”