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Preservation Society talks saving strategy

Jackson County Resource Center, Aug. 20, 2010.

JACKSON -- The Jackson Preservation Alliance will gather evidence that the 1938 portion of the Jackson County Resource Center is of historical significance in hopes of utilizing the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (MERA) to halt the demolition of the structure, the group's president said at its meeting Thursday in the Jackson American Legion.

"The attorney, Mark (Anfinson) said we can get a lot done if we mobilize and he said our chances were really good as far as stopping the demolition and getting an injunction and using the MERA," said Cathy Buxengard, president of the Jackson Preservation Alliance.

"He said using that is a really powerful instrument, especially when you have a building of significant historical importance."

The group plans to file an injunction against the demolition of the 1938 portion of the Resource Center, which is slated for demolition so a new Jackson County Human Services building can be built in its place.

An injunction, Buxengard relayed from Anfinson, could stop the destruction for months pending a trial. If a trial went forward, demolition could be delayed another six to eight months. Anfinson's fee would likely be between $5,000 and $7,500, but would not have to be paid immediately.

"It's obvious the building does qualify for historical significance," Buxengard said.

The group's vice president, Cheryl Brooks, criticized the Jackson County Board of Commissioners for allegedly ignoring the wishes of the people after the vote that stopped the commissioners from issuing bonds for the Human Services building.

"They feel that they're in power. They're empowered by their vote. They got voted in, and now they think 'Well now I'm lord of all,'" Brooks said.

Brooks also criticized Commissioner David Henkels for claiming the Preservation Alliance wanted to preserve the building at any cost, mothballing it.

"We've had no such communication with the board on that," Brooks said. "Nowhere is there any question about mothballing. We all say remodel and reuse. It can be remodeled into offices and reused. It's meant to be used, it's meant to be appreciated. We don't want to mothball it; we want to put (in) good offices."

Brooks, referring to a column written by Henkels, said she would be happy to buy the Resource Center for $1 if Jackson County would sell it.

The group agreed to try to get their message out to people in other Jackson County towns, but did emphasize its name is the Jackson Preservation Alliance, not the Jackson County Preservation Alliance.

"I hope that each town starts its own, and we can collaborate between all of us," Brooks said. "It has been shown that it does not work to have a county preservation alliance."

The Jackson Preservation Alliance will meet again at 7 p.m. Sept. 9 in the Jackson American Legion.