Over the last four years, I have had the privilege of serving as a Brainerd City Council member representing the Fourth Ward in southeast Brainerd. I have developed a great respect for the people of our community and the efforts given in making our city a great place to live.
I am proud of our city administrator, Department heads and staff who diligently work to keep our city running smoothly. We have continued to increase in business expansion in our industrial park, now in Phase III, and have welcomed numerous businesses into our community.
Along with business has come the need for affordable housing. Since 1990 we have added 11 new housing subdivisions containing 200 new lots. Many of them are earmarked for low to moderate income families, a much needed and appreciated commodity in our area. There also have been over 500 new housing units built in Brainerd over the last 10 years. The Brainerd Housing and Redevelopment Authority has been instrumental in working with some of these key developments.
With new business, and homes for families, comes additional developments within the Park and Recreation Department. We have added the Gold Medal Arena, Lum Park Campground, Jaycees Park, O'Brien Park and Buffalo Hills Park, a soccer field, and new trails for biking, hiking and snowmobiling, and more plans on the horizon for additional trails and activities.
Our police and fire Department work hard to keep our quality of life secure and safe. At the present time they, along with our engineering department, are in need of expansion. We as a city will continue to grow, and in the process our staff is in need of more space to serve the needs of our citizens adequately. A Space-Needs Committee has met since February to come up with a plan to meet criteria necessary for the current growth and to meet the needs of the future. What is being suggested is a Public Safety Building housing both police and fire departments and sharing facilities for a meeting room holding 200 people, reception area, offices and fitness room. The engineering, building inspection and planning departments would remain together in city hall, with a three-level addition onto city hall, housing additional office space and a garage. Additional office space is needed in these departments because of added staff positions including a new inspector to cover the building, housing and nuisance inspections. The committee spent many hours over many months and presented this recommendation to the city council. We as a council agreed to put this out to the city voters on Nov. 7. I encourage anyone interested, to take time to go through these facilities and see how the needs will be met with the passing of this referendum.
With the growth that has occurred over the years, our city has also received since 1993, a Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. Our city debt is low, under $4 million this year, and this is achieved through the direction of the city council along with the recommendations of the Personnel and Finance Committee, and city administrator. It is something to be proud of.
I have had the opportunity to work with Lucy Nesheim, Gene Goedker and Gary Scheeler on the Safety and Public Works Committee over the years. These individuals have had a sincere and positive interest in the well-being of this community. Mayor James Wallin, Jim Dehen, Mark O'Day, and Frank Asplund have provided their opinions through various issues we have dealt with. It has been a privilege to work with them. We don't always agree, but there is a depth of respect we hold for each other that makes me proud to be a part of this council.
We as the city of Brainerd, can be proud of who we are, where we live and the people surrounding us. Let's continue working together, to make our community even better in the years ahead. It's a great place to call home, isn't it?
(Olander represents Ward 4 on the Brainerd City Council and is a member of the Safety and Public Works Committee.)
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