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Partnership could result in welcome center

A partnership brewing between the city of Rosemount and the Rosemount Area Arts Council could mean a more welcoming Rosemount.

In June, RAAC leaders proposed a partnership in which members of the organization would start a front porch program. The program would provide volunteers to run a welcome and information center from the lobby of the Rosemount Steeple Center.

As part of the program, RAAC would provide information to residents and visitors about local amenities, businesses and events.

In return for the services, parks director Dan Schultz said RAAC will receive rent-free use of city facilities for RAAC-sponsored activities. During the July 17 work session the council and RAAC leaders talked about the details of a service agreement that will pave the way for the program.

RAAC coordinates a number of activities throughout the year. One of the group's biggest hurdles is a modest budget and the agreement would address at least facility costs.

During the work session, council member Matt Kearney asked if there could be issues with other non-profit groups by entering into the service agreement.

City administrator Dwight Johnson said he didn't think it would because the city isn't just giving away use of its facilities.

"There is some give and take," said Johnson.

Mayor Bill Droste said he felt the information center would be a good partnership because it would mean tax payers would get more out of the Steeple Center and their investment into the building.

Going forward, RAAC? member John Loch said the group will continue to invest and work for the betterment of the community.

"Everything we earn goes back to putting on something for the community," Loch said.

According to the proposal given to the council the front porch program was created to welcome in visitors. The title goes back to a time when neighbors greeted one another from their front porches and created a foundation for lasting relationships.

The program will promote the city and the chamber and will act as a casual drop-in spot for visitors. According to the proposal, RAAC?will often feature works of art to view and/or purchase. The effort falls in line with RAAC's mission to build and strengthen the community through the arts.

Council member Jeff Weisensel said, "I just love the idea of the front porch."

In their letter to the council, the RAAC board of directors stated, "We believe a collaboration between the City of Rosemount and the Rosemount Area Arts Council will go a long way to move us forward together in building the Rosemount community."

The Rosemount Area Arts Council was founded in 2007 by four residents who were serving on a task force to explore reuses for the former St. Joseph Church. The group recommended the former church be reused as a community arts center.

By partnering with the city, RAAC hopes to further the task force recommendation and use the Steeple Center for arts-related activities.

While there are still details to hammer out, city council members seemed excited to enter into the agreement.

The city council will formally approve the service agreement during its Aug. 6 regular meeting.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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