Open Forum for week of Nov. 22

EDITOR’S NOTE: Letters will be accepted for the Open Forum for publication in the next available issue after receipt. Letters may be sent to Forest Lake Times, 880 SW 15th St., Forest Lake, or by e-mail to [email protected] Letters should not exceed 250 words and must be signed with the writer’s name, address and telephone number. Deadline is noon Monday. The newspaper reserves the right to edit letters and assure that rules of libel and good taste are not violated.


What About Downtown?

Forest Lake does have a downtown.

It’s not at Headwaters, Northland Mall, Broadway and 35, or the Highway 61 strip south of town.

It does overlook the lake, city park, boat landing and municipal lot. Millions have been spent to improve these areas because the lake is our greatest asset.

However, the downtown long ago lost its charm and apparently has been left behind by the city. Anyone would be hard-pressed to find any city with this locale and amenities abandoning their downtown and spending $24 million on a city complex which will raise taxes approximately 23 percent.

Properties between Broadway and Second Avenue are the oldest buildings in town; some approaching 100 years.

There are five empty buildings, six empty storefronts, eight properties for sale, and a bar, adult novelty store and pawn shop all within view of city hall! It does not look “As good as it sounds,” whatever that slogan means.

Seventy-five thousand dollars has been set aside for property owners to borrow to fix up their storefronts. What? I appreciate the thought, but the last thing I need is another payment on my old building. Take those funds and look for developers for senior housing, professional or retail.

Council has said that the downtown looks really run-down and there is a need for senior housing, preferably downtown. Why build a monument at Northland Mall when the downtown is crying out for redevelopment? You might as well build a mausoleum because a spot should be dedicated for the memory of downtown Forest Lake.

Dwayne G. Fladland
Forest Lake


Tom’s Solution

Now that the elections are over, and we have been reminded of the nation’s fiscal problems, we have been told that we can remedy them through taxes or borrowing. I believe there is an alternate way, through savings.

There is a lack of good returns on investments. This creates worried citizens.

During WWII this country raised taxes to pay for the tools of war, but funds were also raised through savings bonds. People were appealed to through the public pressure of patriotism. As I understand it, more than half of the money needed by the federal government was raised in this manner.

The problem today is the interest rates on the savings bond is not high enough.

What if the rates were raised several points above the other investments? This would be a little more expensive way to pay down the national debt, but it may well offset Social Security raises in the future. Besides, how much longer are we going to be able to finance our debt by selling it to the Chinese?

Sales would be handled by the Post Office, creating more business for them through increased traffic.

Although payroll deductions would be a good way to get the middle class to participate in this plan, I think that the top 5 percent would find this plan preferable to higher taxes.

I would also like to see them labeled, such as Retirement Bond or College Bond. However, the title that appeals most to me is the melodious ‘Tom’s Bond.’

Tom Obst

  • Phillip Fishman

    With regards to Mr. Fladlands letter about redevelopment of downtown, I agree with his major premise – that most of the “old” downtown Forest Lake is in need of redevelopment and certain properties are eyesores – most notably Mr. Fladland’s property which is a complete disaster and has been for many years. Interestingly, it’s also his property that houses the “adult novelty store” he now complains of. Interesting… In addition, I know from firsthand knowledge that Mr. Fladland has been approached several times by private investors/developers about acquiring his property. Rather than be reasonable, Mr. Fladland instead demanded ridiculous amounts of money for a property he admits is a delapitated eyesore. If downtown Forest Lake is going to be re-developed, it’s going to take a public push, reasonable minds and funds that are now being re-directed elsewhere, i.e., the City complex in the Headwaters development and the potentially large re-development of the Northland Mall site by the City. No question, progress needs to be made, but it seems that it always has to come at the expense of someone or something, in this case, the old downtown of Forest Lake. While I question the motives or reasonableness of Mr. Fladland, he is correct about that. Over the years, the City has been presented with numerous proposals to redevelop the area around the lake, which were all ultimately rejected by the City for various reasons. Now the City needs to figure out what to do about the area that has been treated like an orphan stepchild. It would be a shame to see such a great redevelopment opportunity go to waste.

  • Don Keitz

    As I recall, the old library is rarely used. Why not redesign the old city hall, using the old library space as part of the new offices? Instead of completely tearing down the Northland Mall, why not turn some of it into upscale strip mall space like AnyTime Fitness? They figured it out. As a city of 18,000+, we have more important things to focus on than a building an entirely new palace to our government officials. Our city and state feel the need to give city government lavish facilities.

    In my three years living in North Carolina, I noticed that cities operate differently down there. They give the city government what they need to operate and focus their funds on useful things (streets, parks, etc.). Look at growing North Carolina cities with larger populations and larger city staffs than Forest Lake. You will see that they are able to house their city staff in buildings smaller than Forest Lake’s current city hall. We have a vacant library and we can’t house a few dozen staff members? Let’s be smart and redesign it.

    Citizens of Forest Lake, don’t be fooled by our city government. They will tell you that Minnesota cities of comparable population have more staff and larger facilities than our city of nearly 19,000 does. Don’t forget that over 40% of our population lives in the old Forest Lake Township (Census 2000,2010). That’s 8,000 (+/-) people who usage of city services is comparatively to the 11,000 who live in the old “City of Forest Lake.” Therefore, we should be comparing our city government responsibilities to cities with population of much less than 19,000.

    Lastly, can the Economic Development Authority explain to the people of Forest Lake, how their new government project is suppose to help the local economy? For a group comprised of supposed business owners and economic gurus, they truly missed the mark on this one (expect for Jackie McNamara, who voted no). They need to change their name to Economic Destruction Authority. I would accept the project if their name included “Destruction” and if our “fiscally responsible” mayor auctioned off his cow to help pay for the project.

    Be smart Forest Lake!

    Don Keitz
    Forest Lake

  • Herman C.

    Don, a good point on the library space. However, I doubt putting a few million into that junk building would be wise. It’s not about city hall, it’s about the police and fire. The city hall is the smallest piece to this. So, why did you come back from Mayberry if the south is so great? Also, like the confederacy, the township needs to get over the woe is me mentality and realize it is now one city. Not a city and “old township”. Neither the south nor the old township will rise again. Oh, the cow is a rental :)

  • Ranger I

    There is more to come after the new government center is built. It just keeps going. Woe to you people who can’t remember history. You just do not mind to repeat it again and you need to stop this insanity. Eugene Huerstel

  • Herman C.

    Let’s hope there is more to come! Parks, pools, roads – keep up the insanity please!!!

  • john harrington

    why dont you ask us to vote on here on the new building coming at us in forest lake or is it to much for we the people to have a vote

  • Ranger I

    You must have lots of money or a money tree Herman. Could we have some? Maybe you could spread the wealth? Thanks Eugene Huerstel

  • Herman C.

    Not enough $ to have a second home in Florida :) like a lot of the part time resident naysayers :) I would rather invest in this community thank you

  • Ranger I

    Herman C, Sounds like your running out of money or you could just recommend giving more than double in taxes yourself. Go ahead feel free to pay your own way. Eugene Huerstel

  • Phillip Fishman

    So, just so the record if straight… This delipilated mall which has ben a huge tax sink hole for the better part of the last two decades is going to be the new econompic impetittus for the directionaless City? Perhaps when the City bury itself it even more debt, we could look at actually make some progress with developing actually tax paying business that could employee people? Something tells me that adding some small business and coporate business might go aways towards reducing the commerical and residential tax base. Newsflash – it’s going to be real business and small businesses that will grow this area again with employment and providing a somewhat non-existent corporate tax base.