It's an idea that apparently won't die.

About two years ago, local officials began discussing the future plans for the New Richmond School District's undersized and aging Middle School facility.

Because the city is in need of expanded library space to meet growing demand for service, some thought the building could be converted for community use.

At the time, school officials weren't ready to give up the site because voters had yet to approve new and larger buildings for students.

Now that residents have approved a new high school and elementary school, along with renovations to existing structures, library supporters are hoping the District might change its tune.

At Monday's regular City Council meeting, Friday Memorial Library Director Scott Vrieze asked for permission to begin serious negotiations with school officials.

He reported that the Library Board voted in favor of talking with the District to see if something could be worked out.

"My personal view is it's a really good idea," Vrieze told the Council. "It keeps the Library downtown, and there's a strong desire to keep the Library downtown."

Vrieze admitted that it's "early in the process" because the District would still need to use the Middle School for four more years.

But negotiating now would allow the Library Board time to work with an architect to see what building possibilities are available on the Middle School site.

Preliminary plans would be to demolish the old section of the Middle School. The north classrooms, gym and commons area would likely be saved for use as a community center, senior center, Community Education offices and more.

Vrieze said a new Library would then be constructed adjacent to the building.

"I think it's an excellent site," said Council member Jim Zajkowski. "We need to start negotiating and see if we can work something out."

Zajkowski said the Library and possible community center would be a benefit to all area residents and the District should be willing to participate.

"I think this could be great for the area," he said.

The Council voted 4-0 in favor of starting negotiations. Members Renee Keating and Fred Horne were absent.

Mayor David Schnitzler created a sub-committee to begin talks with the School District. Finance Committee member Zajkowski, Property Committee member Fred Horne, Vrieze, Library Board member Jeff Peplau and City Administrator Dennis Horner were appointed to serve.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, School Superintendent Morrie Veilleux said the District hasn't had much of a chance to study the issue.

He said the future of the Middle School will be on the School Board's July 16 agenda for general discussion.

"We'll just see where it goes," he said. "It had to start somewhere."

A key factor in the negotiations will be to establish a "true and accurate picture" of the school building's and property's value, Veilleux said.