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Kasson prepares to demolish school but keeps its options open

From staff reports

The Kasson City Council on Tuesday approved advertising for bids for asbestos removal, salvage and demolition of the former Kasson elementary school, starting the process of tearing down the historic building.

The process will take time, and meanwhile, the city remains open to a proposals to buy and renovate the building, a project that likely would cost $4 million to $5 million, said City Administrator Randy Lenth.

"The property is in such a prominent place in the community — it’s not only about selling the property for $1 to somebody, it’s about what we want for the community in its place," Lenth said.

The city first will seek proposals to remove the asbestos in the building, which must be done before either demolition or sale of the building, Lenth said.

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On Nov. 7, Kasson voters defeated a $3.9 million plan to renovate the school at 101 Third Ave. N.W. to house a new library and city hall. The proposal surfaced as the city’s library was struggling with a serious lack of shelf space, requiring thousands of books and DVDs to be packed away in storage.

The city acquired the old elementary school building in May from the Kasson-Mantorville School District in exchange for the city crediting the district $90,000 in street assessments. The city initially had scheduled a vote in July asking voters whether $3.9 million should be spent to renovate or demolish the building. But officials canceled the election at the last minute after concerns were raised that the ballot questions’ wording might be too confusing.

Kasson officials have said they want to decide soon what to do with the building because heating the facility would be costly through the winter.

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