Mapleton residents weigh in on the future of the former Mapleton school building

KEYC News Now at 10 Recording
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 10:14 PM CST
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MAPLETON, Minn. (KEYC) - On Tuesday, the Maple River Schools’ auditorium filled with Mapleton residents, all ready to talk about what to do with the former Mapleton school building.

During the open forum, many ideas bounced among attendees on how to utilize the soon-to-be vacant area and how to fit the needs of the community. One question that residents want to know is what will take the place of the school if it’s demolished?

“I think everything’s up for a discussion,” said Robert Harris, community business developer,” We’re very early in the planning process. We’ve just put together some very preliminary sketches to get the conversation going.”

The city’s Economic Development Authority partners with the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership to create initial ideas for the space’s redevelopment.

“I’ve just got it start gotten started working in Economic Development here in Mapleton and I see that there’s a crunch for multifamily housing as well as commercial property,” said Harris.

During Tuesday’s open forum, the audience was split into groups to discuss and create their own preferred layouts. Many attendees agreed on fulfilling community housing needs, as well as creating commercial space for local businesses and childcare, and opening a new park.

For Julie Winters, a commercial space would help expand her business, Maple River Fitness, but she also advocated for residential space.

“This is a family oriented town. There’s a lot of families,” said Winters.

Mapleton resident Michelle Walters agreed with Winters, and carefully laid out her own preferences, since she lives a block away from the space.

“And so we can see the school from our house. Like, I can see it for my second story window. So, it’s like, would I rather look at houses or apartments? For me, houses because then we have a view,” said Walters.

Organizers say all designs are in its preliminary stages and more thorough designs will come out as the project develops.