With the City of Marine’s purchase of the Marine elementary school property completed on April 30 of this year the new purpose of the site is now being worked out. This seems to be good timing for the relatively new Marine Mills Folk School, which has been searching for new premises to share their creativity and skills with the community. 

At the Marine City Council meeting on August 8, the council reviewed a drafted contract for the lease of space in the school building to the folk school. Concerns were raised over the lack of clarity in the draft. Council member Bill Miller stated, “It wasn’t in there officially [that the property could have other uses] and I’m not saying we’re going to have a problem, but I want to make sure that things could change. You guys may want more of the building, less. It’s a fluid situation and I want to make sure we’re covering all of our bases.” 

In response to this consideration Matt Smith, who represented the folk school at the meeting, said, “Our expectation too is that there will be other tenants in the building over time. I think the one thing we were hoping for is that within the building you can have some space that we can dedicate for our use.” 

It was acknowledged that there’s currently a verbal agreement between the city and the folk school for the use of this space while the city makes clarifications in the contract and has their attorney review it. The clarifications will make it clear that other tenants using space in the building is a possibility. They will then vote to accept, or not, the contract at the next council meeting on September 12. 

Council member Charlie Anderson then shared a statement made by Robin Brooksbank, who serves on both the board for the folk school as well as the School Property Committee. He explained that her statement should be on the public record. It read “Thank you for holding the all-town meeting regarding the plans for the Marine school property this past Wednesday.  I was asked a question after the proceedings regarding the status of the Marine Mills Folk School as a charitable organization. I regret that I did not mention this during the meeting but did want to confirm with the city that Marine Mills Folk School is a 501(c)(3) exempt organization as recognized by the IRS.”

The 501(c)(3) status means that the organization is exempt from federal income tax in this case for its educational purposes. The folk school, which currently holds most of its classes at Wilder Forest, also the site of River Grove Charter School, provides classes in a variety of topics. These include cooking, crafts, fiber arts, outdoor skills, visual arts and woodworking, according to their website. Opened in October of 2018, the school already has around 60 instructors sharing knowledge that may otherwise soon be lost.

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