Kasson passes resolution to demolish old school
KASSON — The city of Kasson has been trying to demolish the 1918 school at 101 Third Ave. N.W. since 2006, when voters rejected a $3.9 million plan to renovate the building.
A group of citizens known as the Kasson Alliance for Restoration and others have fought to save the building, including filing lawsuits under the Minnesota Environmental Rights statute.
One of the lawsuits is still working its way through the courts, and a temporary restraining order enjoining the city from demolishing the building is still in place until ruled on by Judge Christina K. Stevens.
In July, at the request of the city, a state fire marshal inspected the old school and declared it unsafe.
The report said one wall of the building could collapse at any time. As a consequence, the city has fenced off the building and is prohibiting all access, including access to the street on the south side of the building. The roof has partially collapsed over that section — apparently because of heavy snow last spring — and is pushing the wall outward. The report called for some type of abatement by Oct 10.
To comply with the fire marshal's report, the Kasson City Council on Wednesday approved a resolution ordering demolition of the building by Oct 10.
The resolution may be a prelude to the city filing suit to tear down the building, City Administrator Randy Lenth said.
"If the judge rules against us (in the lawsuit) we have to get into court," Lenth said. A lawsuit would be initiated, but who would the city sue?"Sue the city, sue the state?" Lenth asked, rhetorically.
The resolution directs Zoning Administrator Mike Martin to arrange for the abatement of hazardous materials in the building and to prepare for its demolition, "… as soon as reasonably possible."
In other business, the council learned that the completion date for the new park and ride commuter lot is Aug 30. Lenth said Rochester City Lines has a way to notify riders when they may start using the lot.
Old carriage house
Lenth reported that the Mantorville Restoration Association and the Mantorville Theatre Company want the old carriage house behind the former Folkestad garage at 310 West Main St. The two groups will also accept a $10,000 grant from the city to help with moving expenses. Lenth said the building would be moved this year to a new location in Mantorville.
The city had offered the building and the money to the Dodge County Historical Society, but that group refused the donation. Estimates to relocate and reroof the building came in at about $26,000.
The building was originally located behind a house on Third Ave Northwest and was moved to its present location after World War II.
Gretta Becay is a freelance writer based in Byron.