On Monday night at the Yellow Medicine East School Board meeting, the Building and Grounds Committee made a recommendation to the board that they attempt to sell the H.A. Hagg School building in Clarkfield by sealed bids beginning Wednesday, August 1.
Next, Yellow Medicine East will vet the possible sale process with legal council. The YME School Board will then take action on the Building and Grounds Committee recommendation, most likely at their July 9 meeting, according to YME Superintendent Al Stoeckman.
“The focus of the Building and Grounds Committee is in trying to move the building as soon as possible, so as not to incur further heating and upkeep costs,” said Stoeckman. “The status at this point is a recommendation has been made by the Building and Grounds Committee to sell the building by sealed bids in August. We’ll have to check with legal council and I expect that the board will take action on the issue at the next school board meeting.”
YME has been pursuing the sale of the Clarkfield school building in earnest for the past six months. In that time, a sale agreement with developer Bernie Frey has come and gone, since Frey could not find a local partner to provide an adequate revenue stream that might cover building essentials.
The Clarkfield Charter School, which currently leases building space on U.S. Highway 59 south of Clarkfield from brothers Robert and Ron Schlenner, seemed the most logical choice to be that possible partner. Yet, last week, in what some City Council member described as an effort to protect CACS and remove the city from any financial discussion in the matter—the City Council passed a motion barring the city from purchasing the current CACS building for a minimum of three years.
That action rejected a recommendation—presented by the Clarkfield Economic Development Authority earlier in that meeting—that urged the city to: “negotiate terms on purchasing the Charter School from the Schlenners. Contingent upon the Charter School and Bernie Frey Development coming into an agreement to move into and redevelop the H.A. Haag building.”
At that meeting, councilman Dave Biermaier, who presented the motion that passed concerning the CACS building, stated that there were too many unanswered questions and not enough time for any decision to be made as far as H.A. Hagg was concerned.
Meanwhile, councilman Neil Linscheid, the lone dissenting vote against the motion and an EDA member, said he didn’t think the city should tie their hands in any way when addressing the issue.
This week Linscheid said, “I understand where Dave’s coming from. There’s a lot of ideas out there, most of them dreams really. There’s just not a lot of available options that have clear benefits that outweigh the cost. Both the EDA and the council are in a position of zero power—no money and no options. But, we can still work to find people and connect them and start those broad conversations.”
Page 2 of 2 - Clarkfield EDA director Gene Wenstrom concurred with Linscheid this week saying, “We still can do this, it’s just going to take some more time. We’ll now see what happens August 1. Until then, the EDA is going to continue to look at alternatives to get someone into that building.”
The EDA’s next meeting will be June 25 and Wenstrom said he expects to discuss H.A. Hagg at that meeting.
Robert Schlenner, also a Clarkfield city councilman, recused himself from all discussions and the council’s vote last week concerning the CACS building. When reached for comment this week he said, “My brother and I figured whatever would be best for the community, we’d go a long with. So, we’ve tried to stay away from it and just let what happens—happen.”
Schlenner said that in the future there may be some additions and improvements made to the CACS building. “As owners of the building, though, we need to know where they’ll be at,” he said.