Frank Marzario says the development of housing units on the two floors above his Central Avenue shop includes a garbage disposal system that will attract rodents and cause problems for his business.
However, the project developer and owner of space Marzario leases, Todd Nelson, and at least one Housing and Redevelopment Authority member says those concerns are unwarranted, and not within the city’s authority to address.
Marzario’s concerns, expressed Monday during a HRA meeting, center around Nelson’s ongoing project to convert the upper two floors of the former Masonic Lodge building, 230 Central Ave., into eight units. Marzario, who operates Pawn Minnesota, leases space on the first floor of the building. Once complete, sometime in early 2022, the upper floors will house eight apartments of varying sizes.
‘You are manufacturing problems’
The collection spot, which would be separated from the existing commercial tenants by walls and accessed by doors along Third St. NW, would attract pests and be detrimental to his business and a nearby cafe, according to Marzario. Instead, he wants a dumpster with a wood enclosure to be placed in the parking lot on the west side of the building and away from his leased premises.
“The dumpster will be a breeding ground for bugs, roaches, mice and rats,” Marzario wrote in an email to Faribault Community Development Coordinator Kim Clausen. “It will be placed alongside a pedestrian sidewalk (Third Street NE) that will create foul odors and unsanitary conditions. This planned recessed dumpster will be a garbage site for (the cafe,) eight residential units housing approximately 40-50 residents, and Pawn Minnesota. This will cause the ruin of many businesses. The roaches, bugs, foul odors and unsanitary conditions will manifest into hardship to many.”
Nelson contends rodents won’t be able to access the trash collection site because of its sealed enclosure. The city required him to have the trash collection format in place before the council would approve the project.
Faribault Building Official John Rued said Monday that most of Marzario’s complaints are between him and Nelson, not the city. The city’s building code specifically requires recycling and trash collection be provided on-site. Rued noted that placing the recycling and trash collection where Marzario suggested would place it off the property. Rued noted no final payments will be made to Nelson until any of those issues are addressed.
HRA member Jonathan Wood, who is also a council member, told Marzario that contractors such as Nelson have faced challenges during the pandemic in obtaining needed materials in a timely way. Also, he noted that as a Freemason, he is knows that the organization held fundraisers and pancake breakfasts on that same site using only two garbage cans and a recycling container. He views Nelson’s plans as an improvement on that former layout.
“You are manufacturing problems that don’t exist,” Wood told Marzario.
Marzario also called on Nelson to repair and furnish a new ceiling Marzario said was promised to him in April 2020 when Nelson removed layers from his ceiling and altered his lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Nelson said the multiple previous layers of the ceiling posed a fire hazard, noting that and the HVAC system are being repaired.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done” before the implementation of new social studies standards at Minnesota Schools, according to Faribault Director of Teaching and Learning Tracy Corcoran.
During the School Board’s Monday meeting, Corcoran described what happens at the state level when a school subject undergoes a revision. She also explained what occurs locally once the standards become part of state statute and addressed concerns about the whether it will include critical race theory, which finds that the law and legal institutions are inherently racist and that they create inequities between whites and people of color.
As part of a 10-year cycle, the Minnesota Department of Education is currently in the process of reviewing and revising statewide social studies standards for K-12 schools. The committee involved in the process is composed of community members and educators representing all types of districts, from rural to metro, across Minnesota, Corcoran said.
As stated on education.mn.gov, the committee created a first draft of the revised state social studies standards and released it Dec. 1, 2020. During a public comment period that lasted until Jan. 4, the committee collected feedback from across the state. To allow more time to review an abundance of public comments, MDE has pushed back the deadline for the second draft until summer. The final draft will be completed in fall.
The actual implementation of the state social studies standards will happen no earlier than 2025, according to MDE. Corcoran said the new standards will most likely take effect in academic year 2026-27.
Corcoran explained that the process of revising academic standards sometimes takes more than two drafts. In the case of the math standards, the review of the 2007 standards was even tabled and postponed from 2015-16 to 2021-22.
Science and English language arts were the most recent subjects MDE reviewed and revised, Corcoran said. Due to the pandemic, districts had an extra year to complete the transitions. Therefore, the new science standards won’t be implemented until fall 2024, and the new English language arts curriculum begins in fall 2025.
Districts don’t have control over the standards once they’re part of state statute, said Corcoran, but the district will have a chance to review the revisions and build a K-12 team to work on the implementation process at the local level. The content will then shift from a district-wide conversation into a buildings and classrooms conversation.
Both sides of the issue
Board member Richard Olson asked Corcoran if critical race theory is part of the curriculum coming from the state.
Corcoran said it isn’t, and looking at the first draft of the standards, she noted critical race theory isn’t mentioned. She said conversations on critical race theory and the state social studies standards have gotten “meshed together,” but encouraged the district and the School Board to keep the two separate.
Critical race theory’s central idea, according to EducationWeek, “is that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.” The redlining of areas deemed impoverished in the 1930s, which resulted in banks refusing to offer mortgages to the Black residents in those areas, is a frequently used example.
Olson, who has expressed distrust in the state and his opposition to critical race theory being taught in the classroom, asked if there’s a chance the state could “sneak it in” the curriculum.
Corcoran explained the extensive process of approving the state standards, which involves collecting feedback from 50-plus stakeholders, obtaining commissioner approval and then passing that on to the Legislature. In the cases in which other states have banned critical race theory from being taught at schools, Corcoran said the laws go through “a legislative piece, not an education piece.”
Board member Jerry Robicheau also emphasized that representation of the State Social Studies Committee comes from across the state, and not a select group of individuals with a particular ideology.
Additionally, Board member John Bellingham said that he has previously represented Faribault and the teaching profession by serving on MDE committees.
“It’s as comprehensive a process as you want to go through, and as it’s been stated, all the minutes and all the rosters … all this is on the MDE website,” Bellingham said. “Everything is right out there in the open. It’s quite a system.”
In regard to the social studies curriculum itself, Robicheau expressed his concern around absent narratives. He shared his view that eliminating key points in history could create missed opportunities for students to develop their critical thinking skills. In his own experience, he said the Tulsa massacre of Black Wall Street, which wasn’t taught in the classroom, is something he didn’t learn about until recently.
Going off of Robicheau’s comments, Board member Carolyn Treadway said she believes historic facts that adversely affected minority groups should be included in the curriculum. However, she said these lessons should be taught without forcing a political view or casting blame on a particular group. In example, she said, “We don’t blame current day trends on the Holocaust but the ills that existed at that time in Europe.”
“We have not dealt with this up until now, so we need to help our staff realize how [to] remain true to historical facts and yet address both sides of an issue so students can come to their own conclusions,” Treadway said. “I think that would be something that would be affirming to our public.”