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City considers options at St. Joseph School

The Rosemount City Council approved a conditional use permit for the new St. Joseph's school building during its regular meeting. Then during a special meeting it discussed what it's going to do with the old school.

The city currently owns the historic church and school buildings located off of Robert Trail. The city purchased the property to build the new Robert Trail Library and License Center on the south side of the property.

Rosemount and St. Joseph's Church had a lease agreement that allowed the church to use the old school until 2011 or until it built a new facility near its new church on Biscayne Avenue. The church plans to start construction on its new school in October and hopes to leave the old building next spring, which leaves the city in a bit of a pickle.

Council members are faced with two major questions regarding the complex. What do they do with it? And how do they pay for it?

A task force recommended earlier this year that the church and school should be turned into an arts and cultural center. In the interim it suggested the city let the community use it as needed.

Before that can happen, the building needs a few improvements, including making the building handicap and human rights act compliant. Improvements for the church building were estimated at $1.2 million.

In April residents voted down a referendum that would have included money for improvements to the church portion of the building. At the time the school portion was not in the equation. In addition to the church funds the referendum included funds to build an outdoor athletic complex.

The council could put improvements to the complex on the ballot again this time without the outdoor athletic complex perhaps holding it back. But the numbers will be different.

Instead of just improvements to the church, the council would include costs to improve the school. The council has to decide by Sept. 12 if wants to put a question on the Nov. 4 ballot.

While most of the council members said they would like to keep the school for public use, whether it's economical seemed to be the question. Improvements and asbestos removal could cost more than the building is worth.

Acting city administrator Kim Lindquist said private investors have expressed interest in the school property. The former church building will be kept by the city either way.

Council member Mike Baxter asked the staff to bring specifics backed by solid numbers to the next meetings. He said the numbers will probably make the decision for them.