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MC School Board, citizens discuss future of Madison School (photos & video)

MASON CITY – A listening post was held Tuesday night, September 2 at Madison School to discuss the future of the old structure.

A $35,000 yearly price tag and disintegrating and aging equipment inside the building has brought the board to a decision-making juncture.  The listening post was held to help guide the board and school officials in moving into the future with a fate for the school building and coveted green space on the property.

The board focused on selling the property for some of the discussion and background beforehand.  It would cost thousands of dollars to sell the entire property, and if any conditions were added, that would make the sale even more difficult.   A sparse group of citizens were in attendance; but all agreed that the green space west of the building must be preserved.  One man in attendance fears that if the building is sold, it will be “stripped-down” and raided fro everything valuable and then left to rot once it is looted.  Another said that if torn down, the vacant lot would be turned into low-income multi-family housing that he fears would bring the neighborhood down and introduce crime and other issues.

The school’s boiler could break down, a building official said, and it costs $3,000 to $7,000 to repair and up to $200,000 to replace.  He said the roof is holding up.  After school board member Scott Warren said the building is not safe, it was clarified that students recently attended classes inside and that the building met all codes to do that.

An out-of-the box idea was broached from the audience.  It was suggested that the MC School District approach Mercy Hospital (or another local entity with deep pockets) and its parent company to work together in a partnership to save the building and green space.  “This is not merely a problem, but also an opportunity,” said citizen Matt Marquardt.  “A partnership is needed, and Mercy has the dollars and the need for property like this.  He suggested that the neighborhood would benefit greatly by keeping the structure in a somewhat restored capacity and the green space under such a partnership.

Superintendent Anita Micich said the board would likely take the issue up at an upcoming meeting but no hard timetable is has been established.


School Board member Scott Warren said the school may not be safe, but the board ultimately admitted the building is safe and up to code, as students were attending classes there as recently as 2 years ago.
Windows are nailed shut, Scott Warren said.
Citizens universally agree that the green space and playground must stay.
If sold, low-income housing would likely be built where Madison School now stands, something these neighbors fear would lead to the denigration of the area.
Dave Gilbert (top, blue shirt) said he thinks the building needs to stay, and admonished the board for its lavish spending on new schools.
Pete Hjelle tells the MC School Board is would be “bullshit” if the school is torn down, and that the school district should be in the business of renting rooms for wedding receptions and other gatherings. He said the money earned could be used to re-vamp the building and keep it operational.
MC School Board and Superintendent Anita Micich were on had Tuesday, September 2, 2014 to listen for ideas on what to do with Madison School.
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