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Editorial: St. Joseph school building is worth saving

The Rosemount City Council spent a lot of time Tuesday night trying to figure out what to do with the soon-to-be-former St. Joseph School building.

The city got the building when it bought the former church to which it is attached, and it was considered when a task force met to discuss future uses for the complex. Now, though, council members seem uncertain whether it makes sense to hold onto the building when the school moves out, likely sometime next year.

There are certainly reasons to abandon it. It would take money to bring the building up to current standards. It needs improvements to bring it up to American with Disabilities Act standards. That would add to the estimated $1.2 million cost of renovating the church building itself.

That money could be hard to come by, if a vote earlier this year is any indication. Voters soundly defeated a request by the city for money that would have paid for those church renovations as well as an outdoor athletic complex.

For all the challenges, most council members seemed to favor keeping the building for public use

We think that's a good idea. The building is worth keeping. That task force we mentioned earlier had visions of using both buildings as an arts and culture center. The church could make a wonderful performance space. The school could provide space for classes or meetings.

The St. Joseph School building does not have the same historic presence of the church next door. Losing it would not be the same blow to the city's image. But we believe there is value in the building. We think the city can do some good things with it.