Lianne Zeltinger, Minot
I want to thank Alderman Knudsvig for hearing our plea to clean up Minot. I want to thank Alderman Frantsvog for not letting the message fall on deaf ears, but pushed forward to garner funds necessary for immediate work to make Minot a safer community. I want to thank the volunteers who gathered signatures. Jennifer Galdean, Jim and Sherry Heilmann, Shaun Sipma, Kirk Welstad, Darrel and Judith Hovde, Carol Sabo, Jim and Debbie Pearson. It was because of their enthusiasm and hard work that we gathered those 1,000 signatures that got the attention of the city council. I want to thank the council for the unanimous vote of support for Knudsvig's 10 point agenda and the amendment that included the initial funds.
And now just a note to the city council, I won't be going quietly into the abyss. I will be pushing forward, watching, and urging further action. But, more importantly, I will not be alone.
We need to now get the attention of the owners who are ignoring or have completely walked away from their home. All some people need is a nudge. Some only need to be given a deadline. Some need more than a nudge. A small number, and that is a very small number, need firm motivation. (It will be interesting to see if all 36 FEMA trailers are gone by June 1st.) I do find it somewhat ironic that clean FEMA trailers are to be removed because they don't meet code, but there is no time limit to get the moldy river water infested personal belongings removed from homes, all of which are in violation of city ordinances. Hitting them in the pocketbook certainly is effective. People don't like being charged a $350 mowing fee. They learn quickly to mow the grass themselves, or hire it done. Police can ticket the homes that are out of compliance with the city's ordinances. They may not like being fined for debris on their property, but it may get their attention and the action needed to rid the area of flood blight. Finally, it may take a court action to motivate a few to move forward.
The attention of the city has once again been brought to the flooded valley. It must remain there until the last abandoned home is cleaned up. The rights of those who have abandoned their homes must now take a back seat to those of us who either returned and rebuilt or moved into the refurbished homes. Our health and safety must be at the forefront. No one wants to live next to a home with raccoons running in and out, homes with moldy mattresses, clothing, bedding, couches, and food that remain from the June 2011 flood. No one who has a rebuilt home wants to look at piles of garbage bags across the street bags that have been there a year. It costs nothing except a little gas and muscle to haul those bags up to the landfill with a current water bill in tow. No one wants basements with water still remaining in them. They are a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. The Air Force could spray every day and not kill the mosquito population with the many basements of stagnant water that we have in Minot.
I believe Knudsvig and Frantsvog have shown us that things can be done. I didn't hear either of them give reasons why it can't be done. We don't need to compare ourselves to New Orleans where they just recently abated 10,000 homes or Cedar Rapids where entire blocks remain blighted. This is Minot where we can clean up the last 300 properties this season.