Herald Journal Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, March 25, 2002

LP joint facility just talk, but sounds good

By Julie Yurek

Cautious, but hopeful talk about a possible joint use facility between Lester Prairie School and the City of Lester Priarie was the hot topic at last Monday's special joint meeting.

City Council members Rollie Bruckschen, Ron Foust, and Larry Hoof took part in the discussion with school board members Fred Blaser, Barry Kyllo, Chester Hoernemann, Bob Remer, Bob Carlson, and Nancy Krull present. Council member Rose Halloran and Mayor Eric Angvall were unable to attend.

The only decision made was that more meetings were needed in the future.

"We need to see what the joint use committee wants," Blaser said.

The top questions from the school board to the city council included:

· is the city interested in a joint facility?

· what does the city want in it?

· what is the estimated cost?

· location?

"Yes, we are interested in a joint use facility," Foust said. Bruckschen agreed.

"I know the city has talked about putting the police department there," Bruckschen said. "Other than that, we really haven't discussed it."

"The more uses we could get out of the building, the better chance of state funding," Hoof said.

"I'd like to see the building as a multi-generational facility," Blaser said. "If we had a media/library with a separate public entrance, and another entrance for the students, I think the public would get a lot of use from a library or media center."

"We would then remodel the school library, probably into classrooms," Krull said.

"Where would we build it?" Blaser asked.

"The size of the building depends on the location," Bruckschen said.

"It would have to be close to the school so the students could get there, possibly north of the school," Blaser said.

When it came to the money issue, Kyllo thought a $4 million figure sounded familiar.

"For some reason that number sticks in my head," he said.

"It's probably because that's about how much we were talking about when we were considering consolidation with Howard Lake," Krull said.

The city didn't know how much it was thinking in terms of money.

The city's total budget is a little more than $1 million, City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk said. "We don't have any extra to spend," she said.

"As a citizen, I'm thinking I'm going to get taxed twice on this deal," Pawelk said. "Once for city taxes, again for school taxes. The township residents will only have to pay the school tax."

"You're not going to pay double, if that's what you're thinking," Kyllo said. "You will be paying a little more than the non-city residents."

"I've had good feedback from people. They would rather see money going towards a joint facility than towards a consolidation with Howard Lake," Hoof said.

"We need to look at districts that are similar in size to us that have a joint facility and see how they do it," Pawelk said.

"Could you go to the public with a bond next April or May?" Supt. James Redfield asked the council members.

"Yes," Foust said.

Board members asked Foust if it would be possible to add some questions onto the city's survey pertaining to the school and a joint facility.

That would be fine, Foust said.

"We'd like to know how people are finding out about events at the school and about the school itself," Krull said. "What kind of media are people getting their information from?"

"I'd like to see more people on the joint use committee too. We need more input," Blaser said.

Both groups agreed that another joint meeting is needed. However, everyone agreed to wait until the survey results are back before conducting the next meeting.

"We will have a better understanding where things stand," Carlson said.

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