LETTER: A ‘Civic Center’ in Arden Hills isn’t fiscally responsible

To the Editor:

 

The Arden Hills council wants a “Civic Center” in the Rice Creek Commons. What’s a “Civic Center”? The council’s self-labeled fiscal conservatives don’t know. They’ve never made the case, but appointed a committee to consider pie-in-the-sky ideas. Consultants say it could include a gymnasium, a City Hall, dance/yoga studios, a health club, a coffee shop, an event center, etc. Only council members know why we can no longer live without it. But they aren’t saying.

However, some rationale has leaked out. “The land is free.” But wait — haven’t they sat on 6.8 acres of free land for 17 years on the old city hall site on Highway 96? If it’s so essential, put it there, a more central location near our City Hall and public works facility. “Well, the developer would pay half the cost.” So what — it still requires debt financing, and we’re stuck with operating costs. Instead, spend developer dollars on real needs — a water tower, utilities, etc.

Those pie-in-the sky ideas? Bring on the private sector — they’re not public responsibilities. When I served on the council, our hands were full with street construction/maintenance, utilities, public safety and parks/trails — the bread and butter of city government. But a coffee shop or event center? Really? And what’s wrong with our present City Hall?

We don’t need a “Civic Center.” There’s no demand for it, and we don’t want to pay for a pipedream. That’s fiscally conservative, something the mayor and council really don’t understand. 

 

Gregg Larson 

Arden Hills

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