Reporting Liz Collin
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s been a half-year long court battle, but on Friday an agreement was made to keep the St. Paul Urban League building out of foreclosure.
The headquarters of the 85-year-old institution has been sitting vacant on Selby Avenue and falling into disrepair. When economic hard times hit, there was talk of selling it. That’s when former leaders of the league went to court to stop the sale.
Friday’s agreement was affirmed in Ramsey County Court, and WCCO-TV’s cameras were allowed inside.
The agreement brings hope to reestablish the league; it comes after a bitter dispute over the direction of the nonprofit during hard times.
“It has been hard, it has been strenuous,” said Judge Margaret Marrinan.
She thanked both sides for reaching a settlement.
On one side, there were long time leaders and members of the league, Willie Mae and Bill Wilson. On the other side were board members represented by Ray Jefferson and Paul Quast.
“I think with the proposal made by both sides that if there is any hope for the survival of the St. Paul Urban League, it will be because of this settlement,” Marrinan said.
The agreement does two things: It saves the building from foreclosure, and it establishes a timeline to replace the current board with a new one.
“There’s a lot of work that’s in front of us,” Willie Mae Wilson said.
The Wilsons had hoped to retire from the league after decades of service. But now they are drawn back to help the institution they love.
It’s their pension money that will be used to pay the $65,000 loan on the building.
“Making progress is always an uphill climb,” Bill Wilson said. “So we’ll figure out how to do it because this is about today, but it’s also about the next generation.”
As part of the agreement, St. Paul Urban League members will meet within 45 days to vote on a new board of directors.
Defendant and former CEO of the league, Scott Selmer, was not in court Friday.