Well, folks, it’s been a tiresome four months, to say the least. Lots of highs and lows, and plenty of sleepless nights for 23 families. The lowest of the lows came May 8, with the vote to contract with Washington County for police services. Tuesday morning, May 9, saw several of us headed to Stillwater to speak to Washington County commissioners to plead our case. I couldn’t tell if we did any good, but at least we tried.
On Tuesday afternoon, the high school students staged a walk-out and rally at City Hall. On Wednesday, May 10, we found out Sheriff Dan Starry had pulled the proposal and provided the highest of the highs. What a ride we all had that week. Now, I want to say a few words about the people who were affected by this ordeal.
To the men and women of our police force, you have proven to be true professionals, always holding your head up high and doing your job. Personally, I believe you make up the best police force in Minnesota. We, the citizens of Forest Lake, are proud to have you. We love our cops. Thank you!
To the students who participated in the walk-out and rally, you are to be commended for getting involved and doing it right. No one was hurt, no one damaged property, and you got your message across loud and clear. I was very impressed by the entire process and want to thank you for all you have done. It proved the effect you can have when you persevere and become one voice. Please stay involved with your local government. You are our future leaders. You helped prove that you really can fight city hall.
To the citizens of Forest Lake, there are many of you who never gave up and were a constant source of strength and support. Your steadfast opposition to the proposal only grew at every meeting. The number of people showing up week after week was humbling. This was, by far, the most important issue ever faced by the city of Forest Lake. I offer my heartfelt thanks to all of you.
Now is the time for all of us to take a deep breath, relax for a moment, and then think about what we can do to make Forest Lake the best it can be. Let’s sell the idea of what a great city we have so people and business will want to locate here. Let’s make sure everyone knows about our great school system, parks and trails, airport, golf courses, athletic programs, library, YMCA, and, of course, our lakes. The list goes on and on. And now, we can brag about having the best public safety: our FLPD. As councilman, I will try to do my part, but I need your help. Please stay involved.
The silver lining in this whole ordeal is how it has brought so many together from both sides of the political aisle. This is proof positive we can work together and leave politics at home. Local government should be about common sense solutions for our city, like fixing streets, making sure water is abundant and safe, maintaining the sewer system, taking care of our lakes, and public safety, to name a few.
One issue we need to resolve is the fact there seems to be a disconnect between what used to be the township and the city. We all need to accept the fact that the township no longer exists. After 17 years, I still hear the argument. It’s time to put it to rest so we can become one community and move on. There’s plenty of work to be done, so let’s get busy and figure out how to get the best bang for the taxpayers’ dollar.
After joining the council in January, I began to see some things that need to change. The most important of those changes would be to strengthen our partnerships with the volunteer committees (planning, parks and trails, airport, FLAAA, EDA, to name a few). I also think we need bring back a police commission. We have a need to have better communication with those folks. We also need to strengthen our partnership with the School Board, as there seems to be a disconnect there as well. We can only ask why that is and work to do better.
Finally, I want to say thank you to the Washington County commissioners and Sheriff Starry for their consideration, leadership and action.
Sam Husnik is a Forest Lake city councilman.