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Community chips in ideas for the New York Mills creamery

More than 30 citizens came together last week to brainstorm possible community uses of the creamery building that was donated in December to the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center.

Cultural center board member Vicki Chepulis directed the brainstorming process at a special public meeting last Thursday. She asked everyone to envision a set of values to make the creamery building attract all ages and cultures, the idea being that the events and activities offered would uphold these values.

The participants offered up a collage of suggestions: culinary art classes, recording and art studios, exercise areas, a folk school and wood sculpture classes.

Some envisioned the creamery building as it once had been - a place to enjoy a cup of coffee or an ice cream cone. Except now there could be some added features like high speed Internet and live concerts.

Others suggested expanding the farmer's market, located in the empty lot next door, into the creamery building. Still others wanted an arts festival.

All of the ideas centered on the cultural center's mission of "expanding the cultural and creative opportunities of rural Americans by offering innovative, quality arts programming, and demonstrating how the arts can be used as an economic development tool in rural communities across the nation."

At this time, the 7,000-square-foot building is not completely usable without some structural upgrades. Replacing the roof will be the first project. Restoring the bricked-up windows are also on the list of things to do. Future plans also include upgrading the now unfinished upper story.

Beginning in mid-May, seven offices and a communal area will be open to entrepreneurs that are renting through the business incubator program with MState. The café section of the building may also open.

As for the rest of the building, plans are still in the works.

For more information on the creamery building plans, call the cultural center at 385-3339.