The two groups who expressed interest in Jefferson School will have a second chance at stating their case.
The Red Wing School Board voted 6-1 Monday to allow public presentations to those who submitted requests for proposal, while also having the option of starting another request for proposal process with or without specific green space language stated.
Board member Holly Tauer was the only person to vote against the motion, stating while she wants a “win-win” situation for the district and potential buyer, she wants to respect what the community has requested from the board from the very beginning: keeping the playground space public.
Superintendent Karsten Anderson presented the board with five options:
Hear from previous request for proposal groups.
Begin the request for proposal process again.
Keep the building, which costs between $50,000-$60,000 a year to maintain, and look into future uses for the facility.
Discuss selling the entire property or a part of it to the Red Wing Port Authority and/or Housing & Redevelopment Authority.
Sell a portion of the property to the city and choose between the other four options to pursue for use of the building.
Anderson recommended the first option. Anderson said the previous groups were still interested and were willing to work with the city on the green space issue.
Keller-Baartman Properties' proposal to create a child care facility was accepted this spring, but the company has since pulled out.
Valley View Recovery Center and James and Jennifer Patterson were the only other respondents to the request for proposal in the spring. The two groups are invited to present to the board and the public during the Sept. 3 meeting.
Board member Jim Bryant said he has heard from community members saying the board should just sell the block-sized property. Bryant also said if they don’t feel strongly toward the two groups presentations, reopening the request for proposal process would be the best route.
Board member Janie Farrar agreed with Bryant’s assessment, saying she has hesitancy in bringing in more government entities to the project, worrying it could make the property less desirable to groups trying to purchase the former Jefferson Elementary School.
The request for proposal decision could be pushed out to November if the board decides to go that route.
Clerk Heidi Jones said she agrees with Tauer on listening to the community on the green space issue. Jones said the community has a right to have a voice and board members have a responsibility to move forward with the sale is the most respectful way possible: “I think we’re going to be in trouble if we don’t listen to the community and incorporate some middle ground on the open space issue.”
Treasurer Mike Christensen said having public green space would be much more of a city issue, rather than a School Board issue.
“If we keep the green space issue as a requirement for the sale, we’re going to be in the same situation that we’re in right now,” Christensen said.
The board will meet at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 3 in the Red Wing High School Media Center.