Open Forum for week of Dec. 6
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@example.com. 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.
Not the Solution
The problems in Forest Lake are not going away quietly. It’s too bad the police and fire departments are being used as pawns to push the Northland Mall project. They do need upgrades but this is not the way to do it.
All decisions were being made in secret closed meetings by a few of the mayor’s hand-picked associates, months ago!
Two members of the City Council are in locked step with whom I will now refer to as “Lola” (Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets!). All important votes are 3-2.
Next the EDA was increased to seven members by “Lola” and with the last two appointed by “Lola”. Now the EDA has the power to bond $21.5 million to accelerate the Northland Mall project and then lease it to the city. Who’s steering the boat? This EDA is controlled by “Lola” and guarantees the extra three needed votes. Mark resigned but was immediately replaced by Ray (two peas in a pod). Every decision is now made at the behest of his highness’ desire.
It’s pathetic for a community of approximately 18,000 residents to watch their city slowly implode. Hundreds of businesses gone since 1990. You can die with two mortuaries in town but you can’t be born here ‑ no hospital! All four grocery stores east of I-35 will be no more by January 2013. The tax base is eroding, too. Is the school district looking to acquire more free land?
Does anyone care?
Whose Best Interests?
You may think you have elected people who are acting in your best interest, but my opinion says you are wrong. This I support by the actions of the City Council and EDA in their joint meeting last week.
The center point of discussion was the moving forward with the “Mayor’s Plan” to erect a new city hall, police and fire buildings on the Northland Mall property, all without voter approval, to the tune of $23 million and a tax increase of 23 percent. So what’s the problem with that? Well, there was an alternative.
As you may have read in the Nov. 29 edition of the Times, a proposal was offered by a local businessman, Bob McCollough, to build on a site next to the airport for $10 million; less than half of Mayor Johnson’s plan.
This alleviates the needs and reduces the tax impact by 50 percent. Does this make sense? Of course it does to open-minded, common sense people.
Was it discussed and compared to other options? Nope, it was blew off by all the EDA members except Jackie McNamara and Blake Roberts, who tried to bring issues and options forward.
Is this the way our government is supposed to protect our best interests? Or is this a reflection of a closed-minded dictatorship intent on burying its citizens in voter-unapproved tax debt?
You decide for yourself; you will be the ultimate payer.
Process is Key
I spent many years in business, including time at an executive level. My colleagues and I found it wise to use a particular method for making the big decisions. In those instances we needed to make the best choice, not the only choice.
I feel pondering whether to build new facilities is a big decision for Forest Lake. If a sound decision-making process is used, the likelihood of a positive outcome and acceptance is greatly increased.
I suggest three viable options be developed and put before the public for comment. After that all the decision-makers should reach consensus on the best alternative and inform the residents of their conclusion. Once the decision is made everyone involved should agree to live with, support, and agree not to undermine the decision.
Much at Stake
The City Council and EDA seem bound and determined to build this city hall, fire and police station without a referendum. The cost of this project will be approximately $23 million by the time it is complete, at our expense.
Do folks in Forest Lake understand what this means? It means that for the next 23 years, property taxes will increase by 23 percent yearly. This is for the new city hall, police and fire stations. This increase does not include all the other things we pay property taxes for. If you want to sell your home it may be impossible with this huge tax burden hanging over your property.
I believe everyone should have a say in this decision, not just the council and EDA. The council could have meetings anywhere, maybe the library. I believe our police and fire deserve to have a place where trucks and cars are kept. There are solutions to this without spending $23-30 million on a piece of property the city cannot afford.
During the forum when the candidates were introducing themselves, I heard that some want to take down the old city hall and build senior housing. There is nothing for them downtown. Furthermore, do you really think developers want to build in a town that has proposed a property tax increase of 23 percent for 20 years?
I only hope that the folks of Forest Lake are smarter than this. Call or e-mail the council and EDA to stop this craziness.
Just Say No
On Dec. 4 and 12, Scandia will receive comments on whether the city should approve a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the proposed Zavoral mine. I implore you to voice your concerns on this project that will impact our lives for years to come. This is our final opportunity to encourage the city to halt further action. If the mine goes through, Scandia will have a black hole of unknown consequences to contend with for many years.
Per the guidelines on CUPs, once established, this activity could continue indefinitely, as long as the conditions of the CUP are met, meaning there could be mining for years.
The city and its citizens will not gain any financial benefits, and surrounding neighbors will incur constant interference, noise and dust, as well as a potential decrease in the value of their properties. The only benefactors of this project are the landowner and Tiller Corporation. Why should we deepen the pockets of one family and Tiller, to the detriment of Scandia’s other residents?
The idea of this mine in our fair city is appalling. Hundreds of trucks, constant excavation noises and hazardous traffic conditions will occur at the TH 95/97 intersection daily. Can you think of a worse place for mining activity, along a National Scenic Riverway and a common route for hundreds of commuters and tourists? You wouldn’t want this mine in your neighborhood, so join your fellow Scandia and Forest Lake citizens in rejecting this mine in such a sensitive area.
A Winning Effort!
On Sunday, Nov. 18, the Forest Lake High School girls’ hockey team bagged groceries at Cub Foods. With the generous donations by many we were able to raise $1,125!
Our program would like to thank all of those who donated to our program. We also greatly appreciate those who donated to our team even though you may not have had us bag your groceries.
Having the support from our community is very important to us. Thank you so much!
Amy Enrooth, Abbi White