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Published April 29 2010

Forum editorial: Rourke agreement looks good

A tentative agreement before the Moorhead City Council likely means one of the metro area’s cultural touchstones will remain in public hands. The Rourke Art Gallery Museum and the city appear to have achieved an agreement that will keep the historic building maintained and home to the art museum.

A suggestion from council members last fall that the city should sell the building rather than repair the roof was met with howls of protest, not only from the arts community, but also from residents who value Moorhead’s admittedly thin architectural heritage. The Rourke, which was built as a federal building and later became an art museum, is one of the few architectural treasures in Moorhead that has not fallen victim to the wrecking ball.

The museum’s new 30-year lease will address roof repair, regular maintenance, the cost of future repairs and the cost of replacing the boiler, if necessary. It appears to be a fair accord for the city and for museum managers. It’s a far better option than selling a grand public building simply because it needed repairs.

The council and the Rourke got off to a rough start a few months ago regarding the building’s future, in large part because of less-than-thoughtful comments from a couple of council members. More enlightened thinking seems to have won the day, and that’s good news for Moorhead and the region.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.