Relics photo essay: Fighting over the Kasson school

The debate over what to do with the public school in Kasson, in southeastern Minnesota, has been raging ever since the city took possession of it in the mid 2000s. A referendum to refurbish it failed and the city decided to tear it down to make way for a new library. But then local preservationists filed a lawsuit, so those plans are on hold.

How communities grapple with empty, iconic buildings is a topic we’ve been covering as part of our Reviving Minnesota Relics project. MPR News’ Elizabeth Baier presented a story on the tussle in Kasson yesterday.

City leaders in Kasson are frustrated. They say that in eight years, only one developer has come forward with a proposal to build senior housing. Funding for the project fell through.

The building is in rough shape, with graffiti on the walls, broken glass and tiles and mold. Thieves broke in and stole copper pipes. Yet the two sides have dug in their heels. “In this instance, there were probably more entrenched positions on either side than I’ve ever encountered before,” said John Lauber, a planner who worked with the community on a reuse study.

“The problem is that we’ve got a difference of opinion about what’s better for the community,” said city administrator Randy Lenth. “You know, know what you can change. And if you can’t change it for the good, sometimes you got to let it go.”

Location: 101 3rd Ave. NW