On a close vote last week, the St. Paul City Council declined to make the vacant Island Station riverfront power plant a locally designated historic property.

The vote came after the Friends of the Mississippi River advocacy group told the council that it preferred to see the station demolished and replaced with “a major regional hub for river recreation” that might include an environmental learning center and National Park Service headquarters.

Supporters argued that the plant was worth protecting and compared it to other historic St. Paul structures, such as Landmark Center, that were dismissed as expendable.

But opponents said that a practical reuse for the deteriorating structure was unlikely without a large city expenditure. Moreover, the plant’s owners wanted a free hand to tear it down.

“This will not be a priority for me,” City Council President Kathy Lantry said.

The 90-year-old plant has repeatedly failed to win federal historic designation.