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'Labor of love' lit on fire: Rosemount police seek information on torched Little Free Library

Rosemount police posted a photo of an early-morning fire engulfing the Claret Park Little Free Library Oct. 27 with a request for information about the fire, which they believe to have been caused by arson. Rosemount Police Department / Facebook. 1 / 3
Dawn Groen stumbled across the burned remains of the Claret Park Little Free Library she and two of her neighbors helped install Oct. 27. Dawn Groen / Submitted photo. 2 / 3
Rosemount residents who lived near Claret Park coordinated efforts to install a Little Free Library. One neighbor spent hours crafting the tiny house-shaped structure that was destroyed by fire Oct. 27. Dawn Groen / Submitted photo. 3 / 3

Dawn Groen and two other families in her Rosemount neighborhood spent months organizing and crafting the Little Free Library that stood in Claret Park.

They'd hoped their contribution to the park's northern corner — right across the street from their homes — was one the entire community could enjoy.

On Saturday, the charred shell of the tiny structure surrounded by scattered, singed pages interrupted Groen's routine early-morning walk as police and firefighters assessed the scene.

Rosemount police suspect arson, according to a recent Facebook post, and are seeking information about the fire.

Police Chief Scott Mitchell said the incident remains under investigation. Without witnesses, Mitchell said investigations like these can take a little longer, but "something will come up."

Despite the fire igniting just days before Halloween, Mitchell said the incident is moreso a "crime of opportunity" than typical mischief like toilet papering or egging houses.

Setting fires outside of controlled environments, Mitchell said, is particularly dangerous this time of year because of the dry conditions.

The fire, Mitchell said, was not only dangerous, but a "sad and unfortunate" loss of a community asset.

"It's bothersome because (the library) is there for good," Mitchell said. "Obviously that library didn't do anything to anyone, so it's not like you should have any vindictiveness toward it."

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact officer Randy Trefethren at 651-322-3124.

The library stood just over a year in the park as a partnership between the neighbors and the city's Parks and Recreation Department, who provided the foundation and mount for the library.

Groen said she and her neighbors found inspiration for the library traveling abroad, where they saw the tiny structures in several countries.

"We thought it was good to be part of a bigger movement," Groen said. "We just thought it would be something the whole community could enjoy and we think they did."

Her neighbor, a skilled woodworker, spent hours building the small box to house an assortment of free books. Groen said she and her neighbors would regularly rotate the book selection.

Despite an outpouring of shocked comments and condolences on the police department's Facebook post, Groen said she doubts she and her neighbors will replace it.

"We're feeling discouraged at this point that someone would actually burn it," she said. "We put a lot of thought into it before we agreed to do it. It was definitely a labor of love, and I think it was loved by those who used it."

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