The Cannon Valley Makers group is growing closer to opening a space of its own.

The Dundas Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for the site on Sept. 16. The City Council is expected to issue the permit by November, which leaves the possibility the space, the light industrial building at 300 N. Railway St., will be functional by February. Founding members expect the makerspace to initially feature equipment — lathes and milling machines.

The facility is expected to include a wood and metalworking shop. The back third of the building will store the shop and heavy equipment. The middle third of the building is expected to focus on work benches and assembly tables, and the plan is for the front third to include retail space, a small library of how-to books and a gathering space, depending on demand.

The idea for the makerspace came for the work of Cannon Valley Makers founding members David Peterson, Chris Whillock, Ann Iijima, Amy Boxrud, Michelle Martin and Ezra Plemmons.

“There’s a lot of people around in this town who have a lot of experience and skill, and many of them are very eager to teach, I think,” Peterson said.

“It will be easy to get to and also it’s going to add to the community,” Iijima said. “It’s a sort of thing I think would be a real benefit to a place like Dundas that is growing.”

“It will be kind of like a sandbox for adults,” she added.

As a nonprofit organization, Cannon Valley Makers can accept donations. The hope is for the makerspace to have at least 50 to 60 active members who will pay monthly membership fees.

The goal of the makerspace is to give users the chance for lifelong learning in a space where they can gather, create and stay active. The founding members of Cannon Valley Makers have had a presence at Riverwalk Market Fair in Northfield this year and plan to continue doing so for the rest of this season’s events.

The idea has drawn support from Arcadia Charter School Executive Director Laura Stelter, who has expressed a willingness to have artistically inclined students participate. The plan is for the makerspace to function somewhat like a small factory.

The group isn’t alone in the makerspace movement. Similar facilities for equipment sharing and co-creation exist throughout the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota, as well as within schools, libraries and universities.

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115.

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