Weeks after a gas explosion damaged Minnehaha Academy’s upper campus in Minneapolis, the private school wants to use Sanford-Brown College in Mendota Heights as a temporary home for students.
With just two weeks before the start of school, the city is holding back-to-back special meetings to decide if the space will work. On Wednesday night, the planning commission and City Council will consider an interim use permit for the school, followed by a council vote. The temporary school use would be valid until June 2019 — two school years.
“The timing is of the essence on that one,” said city administrator Mark McNeill.
The Aug. 2 natural gas leak at Minnehaha Academy killed two people, injured nine and ripped a gap in the middle of the building near E. Lake Street and West River Parkway. Its lower campus starts school Wednesday, and the upper campus is scheduled to begin Sept. 5.
Sanford-Brown College closed its Mendota Heights school in June after announcing two years ago that it would cease operations there, McNeill said.
Its location on Mendota Heights Road and Enterprise Drive was found to be the best alternative for the school, the planning report said.
It’s unclear when the upper campus could reopen, the report said, so the school might only need to use Sanford-Brown College for one year.
It added that the building is set up for a typical college or business school classroom arrangement, which includes a library and social spaces.
Minnehaha Academy executive director of institutional advancement Sara Jacobson declined to comment, citing pending legal proceedings.
About 350 students in ninth through 12th grades would use the temporary space.