I have written a lengthy memo to the elected officials of the city of Brainerd as well as a copy to the city administrator detailing what I believe to be a subject of great concern.
I recognize the good work that is being done by the Brainerd Restoration Committee and sincerely believe that they can not be successful unless we as elected officials take on the responsibility of addressing many of the concerns that I have described in my memo.
SUBJECT: Deterioration -- City of Brainerd
In my opinion during the 1990s and now into the 2000 era ...
1. Our streets and sidewalks are deteriorating at a very embarrassing and alarming rate. I have heard it said many times that Brainerd is referred to as "pothole city." Why?
2. The weeds, trash and debris that litter our city is an eyesore.
3. Many of our buildings in certain areas are a disgrace. I would be happy to point this out to you if you are interested and share the same concerns that I do.
4. In sections of our city the sewers are broken and beyond repair. What has happened to the I & I Study? When are we going to pay attention to the results of the study and realize a return on our investment for this report?
5. Why hasn't North Fourth Street, H Street and Portland Avenue been reconstructed as promised for the year 2001 and programmed for years earlier? These projects have been on the drawing board since 1998.
6. The city property on West Front Street is an eyesore and an embarrassment. There is a building on East Laurel Street that should be demolished.
7. Why hasn't the city used its political will to clean up city-owned property and have the railroad and MnDOT clean up their property? We must lead by example.
8. In July of 2001 the council approved roads and parking lot improvements for our parks and athletic complexes. Why have these improvements not been completed? Better yet, when will they be scheduled for completion?
9. Oak Street will be turned back from the state to the city November 2001. Why didn't the city have MnDOT reconstruct Oak Street before the turn back? What guarantees do we have that the state will reconstruct this street?
I serve on the Safety and Public Works Committee. I have discussed these issues many times but my concerns have seemingly fallen on deaf ears. Comment that I hear is that "staff" is too busy. Private citizens have formed a Restoration Committee for the renovation of Downtown as well as the neighborhoods. It is my opinion that elected officials must set the example for clean-up, renovation and restoration of our city.
10. The city must have a policy and guidelines as it pertains to tax -increment funds. When a developer applies for TIF, there is a policy in place that protects the financial interest of our citizens without getting into a situation as we have experienced in the past. However, that may not be necessary as it seems to be that the state is going to phase out the TIF program.
11. The city needs to develop a policy on annexation that is reasonable and financially responsible to the citizens of Brainerd. Also the city must be reasonable, considerate and communicate with the residents whose land is outside the city limits. We must have good and reasonable communications with these citizens.
12. Phase 2 of the industrial park must be developed. This undeveloped land is a liability to the financial interest to the taxpayers of Brainerd because of the assessments and land payments.
13. In the future all land purchases must be accompanied by an appraisal to determine the value. And too, elected officials must help negotiate the purchase. Land purchases have not always been in the best financial interest of the taxpayers of Brainerd.
With the many years of government experience by the members of our council I sincerely believe that the expertise to address the issues that I have identified is in place. Isn't it time for us to take some positive steps and be willing to take a leadership role so we will be identified as a council that leads by example? I believe it is our responsibility to develop a plan that staff can follow. Good direction will lead to good results.
It is my recommendation that we have a special council meeting to approve a comprehensive plan to stop the deterioration of our city and start a clean-up campaign immediately.
I sincerely hope that my recommendations are taken seriously and would be approved unanimously by all elected officials. Please don't let me stand alone. If I were to make a motion to initiate action and there is no second I then stand alone. Even the opportunity for a 6 to 1 vote isn't possible.
Our city should be known as the "City of Flowers" and not the "Pothole City" as it is now. I really believe that our council will develop a plan that makes us all proud to serve our citizens and change the image in a very positive way.
As an example, sometimes even the smallest undertaking such as the replacement of burned out lights around City Hall is a positive step.
If any of you elected officials want to discuss this memo either at a Council meeting or on an individual basis, I am available. This offer also includes any of our staff.
(Olson is a member of the Brainerd City Council and a former mayor.)
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.