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Gathering space not the only divisive project

The Minot Park Board last week backed away from any participation in the proposed downtown gathering space, citing several concerns.

One board member said he couldn’t back the South Broadway site because it was not the public’s first choice, which has been abandandoned. Safety issues at the same location was a concern of another board member.

Not the least of other often-heard complaints about the proposed gathering site is the sentiment that it simply isn’t wanted or needed. And that one is hard to get passed. It’s not the same as picking a cheaper piece of land or finding a quieter spot. It’s a firm no.

Clearly, the city has to back up, somehow poll Minot residents and determine where they now stand, even if federal dollars for this gathering space are lost. Better to build a different gathering space with 100 percent local money if one is truly wanted or needed, downtown or at any other location for that matter. It would be a costly investment for sure, but hey, if that’s what Minot residents choose to spend their money on, so be it. Or, we could do nothing. That’s also an option.

As for the Park Board, it wasn’t that they were against new projects. In fact, in a recent article we cited numerous projects the park district has under consideration.

“The board also reviewed possible capital projects for 2020, including a new Roosevelt Park Pool water slide and improvements to Jefferson Park, Polaris Park, Overlook Park, Superfund Site near Maysa Arena, South Hill Complex and the Woodland Trail. There’s also paving improvements needed within the district and the possibility of fundraising for a new Maysa Arena scoreboard,” the article said.

Given the many contentious projects in Minot – landfill expansion, gathering spaces, parking garages, recycling, etc. it would be wise for the park board to find a way to divine the wishes of the people before turning a spade on future jobs.

They have already made the astute move of making plans to inform the people about these projects and invite feedback.

The park board set a special meeting for Nov. 6 at 4 p.m. to discuss which projects should be included in the 2020 work plan.

That is merely a start, though. City Council hardly planned the gathering space in secret and look at the mess it has become.

It’s time for more Minot residents to get educated in what government is trying to provide for them – then speak up early in the process. The “nobody told me” attitude that many – not all – have displayed lately is getting old and certainly is not helping us reach consensus.

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