The old Clarkfield school building has been a point of discussion and debate for about a year, and now the City of Clarkfield is facing a decision on what to do with the building. At the last Clarkfield City Council meeting council members discussed the possible demolition of the entire structure, or keeping the gym and locker rooms and demolishing the rest of the structure.
Yellow Medicine County has received a $474,860 bid from Landwehr Construction to remove the entire school and all of its structures. Alternatively, the city has the option of preserving the west gym and locker room area and approving a $499,100 bid from Frattalone Companies Inc. Yellow Medicine County and the City of Clarkfield have an agreement to split the project cost. The city and county would also split the costs for any asbestos removal.
There were tests conducted on May 7th to try and detect any asbestos in the building. Every room was tested, there were multiple rooms where asbestos was found and others where it was assumed asbestos was present. It is thought that the cost for asbestos removal will range anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000. If the city chooses to save the gym and locker room section of the building they would have to repair a wall and make other improvements, that would raise the share of the city’s costs for the project, and there would still be the additional costs for asbestos removal.
At Tuesdays Yellow Medicine County Board meeting County Commissioner Gary Johnson, from the Clarkfield area, discussed the project. “I attended the last city council meeting in Clarkfield, they tabled the decision on the demolition of the school building… I told them we need a decision so that one of the bids can be awarded before the end of June. If a decision isn’t made soon that building is going to stand there as it is for several more years… the costs will be greater in the future if the city doesn’t take action on one of the bids.”
The council tabled the decision on the demolition of the school. It is possible they could drop the project entirely and decide to leave the school as it is. Another possibility that was brought up was selling the building or putting it on public auction. However most of the building is in a state of disrepair with mold and water damage.
There was interest from Kindra Lindblad, a resident of Dawson, and the owner of the Redemption Basketball Academy. Lindbald wants to purchase the gym. Lindbald and supporters told City Council members about her idea for the building at a hearing held on Thursday, May 30th. Lindblad said she is aware that the gym will require an investment from her, including the possible need of replacing its roof in a few years time. Lindbald told council members that finding a vacant gym is like a "gold mine" for her. She has been hosting basketball academies for students in area schools ranging from Canby to MACCRAY, typically she uses space at a church in Dawson.
There is a possibility the city could also take advantage of a tax increment finance project to help cover the costs for demolishing the structures if the gym is sold to Lindblad. However at this point there is no way to know the value of the gym section. It would have to be placed for sale as a tax-forfeited property.
At the last city council meeting the council still remained split on the issue. Three members supported demolishing the structure but keeping the gym section, and two members supported leaving the building as it is and not taking any action.
A decision by the city would likely need to be made sometime in June before the window of opportunity for action closes.