This could have been a story about how the Minneapolis School District was prevented from demolishing one of its shuttered schools and wound up better than a million dollars richer.
Instead, the school board this week got a $1.175 million offer for Shingle Creek school, and said no thanks.
That leaves the district with a school at 5034 Oliver Av. N. that it doesn’t want, and would have to pay an estimated $280,000 to demolish.
What was the board thinking when it turned down the offer on a lopsided vote?
Board member Kim Ellison said she was concerned that the staff-recommended sale to Charter School Property Solutions could open the door to a poor-quality charter school moving in. The Nevada-based developer acts as the middleman for charter or private schools seeking a facility to buy or build, according to its web site.
“I need to have a high-performing school,” Ellison said afterward. She said she’s also working with the neighborhood group to set up a meeting, as it requested. That part of the normal process got skipped because the developer put a deadline of last Tuesday’s meeting on its offer. Normally, the board receives a recommendation at one meeting and votes at the next.
The neighborhood group of the same name has opposed demolition of the school. Last year, the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission voted to deny a demolition permit for the school. That was overturned in a district appeal to the City Council, but that was stayed for six months during which the district was to market the school. That’s what produced the offer.
The one-story school is 55 years old, and is without ductwork that was removed along with asbestos after the school closed in 2007. It’s the sole example in the Mill City of a 1950s design concept in which clusters of classrooms were linked by enclosed walkways. It’s also the city’s first example of a school location chosen collaboratively with park officials to take advantage of a nearby park. The school also played a role in desegregating schools in the late 1960s, when it received the largest shifts of black students.
The city marketed the building without success several years ago. “I was surprised to see an offer emerged at that price,” Mark Bollinger, the district’s chief administrative officer, said. But the spurned buyer put a deadline on its offer because of the lead time needed to move a school there by the time school starts. Larry Rieder, its president, predicted in an e-mail that the school will remain empty for another year.
“No school is going to buy the property in mid-year. We like the property and may take another run at it next year,” he wrote. That assumes that it’s still standing, of course.
Ahead of the DFL convention in early June, mayoral candidates will participate in the city's first-ever forum geared toward the Somali community.
The forum is being sponsored by Safari Restaurant, a South Minnepaolis Somali restaurant that often doubles as a political meeting place for the city's East African community. The event is May 31 at 6 p.m.
Somali activists have played a large role in the city election so far, culminating with candidate Abdi Warsame snagging the DFL endorsement for City Council. Incumbent council member Robert Lilligren dropped out of the running, citing an unfair caucus process.
The video advertising the event (below) is worth a look, since it features each DFL candidate for mayor introducing themselves in Somali.
Arson investigators are asking for the public's help in solving three arson cases in 21 days in the McKinley neighborhood of north Minneapolis.
The most recent fire lit a garage at Tuesday evening, and was the second involving a garage, police said in appealing for tips.. The third fire was set at the rear of a house in the early hours Tuesday. Investigators said that another garage fire remains unsolved in the neighborhood from November. Damage estimates were not immediately available.
The fires for which locations have been reported cluster near 33rd and Bryant Avenues N.
Police asked people with information on the fires to call Sgrt. Sean McKenna at 612-673-3389 or the arson hotline at 1-800-723-2020.
The city's elections committee will soon weigh in on some proposed changes to Minneapolis ordinances surrounding ranked choice voting.
The voting method, which Minneapolis used in a less competitive election four years ago, accounts for voters' second and third choices in selecting a winner. In the mayor's race, that may mean that the winner is many voters' second choice.
But voters sometimes don't fill out the ballots properly. The city has rules to determine voter intent, which it plans to update for the 2013 election. Below are the current and proposed guidelines, side-by-side.
The full ordinance change will be discussed at the city's elections committee next Monday.
To illustrate red tape still buried in Minneapolis ordinances, a city council candidate has issued an interesting, bread-related challenge to his supporters.
Andrew Johnson, who is challenging Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy in her southeast ward, asked his Facebook followers to locate and download the font Lining Gothic No. 520.
Why? Because city ordinances say every loaf of bread manufactured or sold in the city must use that typeface on their labels. The city rule was last amended in 1960.
UPDATE: A commenter notes that the ordinance actually says the bread label must be written in no smaller than 12-point Lining Gothic No. 520 typeface. The font itself does not appear to be mandated.
"My hunch is that it's almost impossible to find, and thus most if not all loaves of bread being sold in the city are being sold illegally," Johnson wrote. "But I hope you prove me wrong!"
Johnson garnered enough support at the DFL convention last month to block the endorsement of Colvin Roy. No one was endorsed in the ward.
The city code actually has a whole section on bread. Here are some other highlights:
Each loaf must weigh "one pound avoirdupois." Bread can only be sold in "half, double, triple, quadruple, quintuple or sextuple loaves." Labels must be printed on an area "at least one inch square and not to exceed one and one-half (1½) inches square, or, if round, at least one inch in diameter and not to exceed one and one-half (1½) inches in diameter."
But thankfully, these provisions do not apply to "crackers, pretzels, biscuits, buns, scones, rolls or loaves of fancy bread weighing less than one-fourth of a pound avoirdupois."
And don't get it wrong, because "any loaf or loaves of bread made, baked or offered or exposed for sale contrary to the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to confiscation."
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