An unbuildable site for PWC
“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it” is a quote from George Santayana.
Sitting in the County Commissioner meeting Mar 7, one would have been appalled at the attitude of the commissioners who gave citizens they elected, the floor and then either patronized them or ignored the comments coming from them completely.
Most of the comments came from older and mature citizens who had been a part of the community for many years. They were there not because they were getting paid, unlike the commissioners, but because they are concerned citizens who have seen the mistakes of the past and do not want them to happen again.
Can we disregard the older gentlemen who have the courage to stand up for the citizens of Steele County? Can we become angered because another citizen doesn’t want the taxes to force people out of the county? Should we not listen to a voice of reason, even though a handful of appointed officials disregard his comments that may have validity in the future plans of Steele County?
The county has spent over $3 million on a piece of property, readying it for a new Public Works Complex. As this property was bid, it has been said that two companies declined bidding because they said it would take an astronomical amount of fill to make that property ready for the structure.
The problem goes deeper than that. According to a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) report, that land is unbuildable. One Owatonna resident stood up to a commission that tried to not only discourage him but also tried to silence him. Commissioner James Brady told the man before the meeting that he could say what he wanted, but “it is a done deal.”
Commissioner John Glynn told the man – during the meeting, not to stand up and speak.
Really? You have made your minds up on a property that you know nothing about?
When this man stood and asked if any commissioner had read the FEMA report, not one had done so.
Instead of asking perhaps what was in the report, they remained as the proverbial silent primates, seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil. Their only response to him was “thank you” and they went on without a word.
When Steele County Public Works Director and County Engineer, Anita Benson, was approached as to how much the sand and gravel would cost the county to bring this project plumb, she stated that it would be another $300,000. When asked why the commissioners didn’t read the FEMA report, she said, “They are all inundated with other things to read, but I read it.” She also stated that when the gentleman and former Owatonna Ag-teacher, Brian Kosel brought it up at the meeting, she said that it was the first time she had heard that the land was unbuildable.
Former teacher of agriculture with five degrees. You’d think that would carry some weight in this process, but evidently not.
But wait. She stated that she had read the report.
If Benson, indeed did read it, and it stated in the FEMA report that the land was unbuildable, why wasn’t that information given to the commissioners? If it was, and they are covering this up to save their decision-making process, then truly, Benson will be the sacrificial lamb when the building crumbles.
But, then again, they won’t be around 20 years to worry about it.
In dealing with the Hydro-Ax building project, Brady said, “My hope is, whatever building we decide on and do could be good for 20, 25 years and the next generation’s going to pay for it. And I’m not going to be around to worry about it. That’s my thinking.”
It’s a shame that a man who says he has future generations to think about would make such a statement, and is that the same sentiment in the building of the Public Works Complex?
This is projected to be a $7 million project. Taxes and add-ons are going to be over the top and as one gentleman predicted, the cost was going to be significantly higher, to which one commissioner mocked him on his “percentages.”
If the FEMA report is correct, shouldn’t someone take a closer look, or, at least A look? This commission is getting in over its head with this project. Everything they expected will be exposed as poor planning and when budgets go out the window, they are most likely going to saunter back into the Capitol and simply ask for more money.
John Petersburg, Minnesota House of Representatives representing District 24A, has a message to this commission should they think they can come for another governmental handout. “NO.” is Petersburg’s response and he also stated that he will be talking to the commissioners about this project.
Was this building site what the county commissioners expected? No. The very fact that they have appropriated money for digging out clay and then replacing it with sand and gravel is the evidence that perhaps they purchased the wrong building site, or the wrong site contractor. Now, $3 million and counting, they are between a rock and hard place. Pun intended.