Josh Wolsky

This is What I See, This is Why I’m Struggling

If you’ve been following my news and commentary on the Nok Back Tavern acquisition, you must be thinking, “he really liked that place.” And yes, I do enjoy a beer with friends. Sadly, I never made it to the Nok Back Tavern. Perhaps that’s its own lesson in what happens when we don’t support our neighborhood businesses, but this is not that commentary.

So, seeing as I might seem infatuated with one old building, I thought it made sense to tell you what I see when I look at that lonely corner. Because what I see is more than a rundown old building. And, yes, I do see that, too.

I see money. Put another way, I see tax revenue. And in the decision to purchase the building, I don’t see that it was considered. I’m struggling with that. 

I see housing. The building holds three efficiency housing units, and we’re demolishing them. Do you know how many millions of dollars we’ve spent subsidizing construction of low income housing units? It’s a lot. And now we’re spending again to get rid of them. I’m struggling with that. 

I see a space for a small business. Economic development is a perpetual topic in Minot. We’re always seeking that metaphorical magic seed that’s going to sprout a beanstalk of prosperity. We invest millions into this effort. But what if we took a more humble approach? What if one  solution to economic development was a simple field for regular beans to grow in? That’s this building! It’s a space for a small, humble business to emerge, grow, and become. And we’re plowing it over. I’m struggling with that.

I see resilience. At 114 years old, the building has survived three floods, provided housing, and held a lot of businesses. And when one business closed, another opened. Why? Because the space is easy to turn over. And it didn’t take a subsidy or a tax break to keep the cycle repeating. That’s resilience. And now, after a decade of Federal money to build resilience, we’re tearing down a building that provided it without help. No need to argue about irony anymore, this is it. And I’m struggling with that, too.

Beyond that, I see a building that aligns with our goals to activate the river; I see the neighborhood investment in this area just emerging with projects like the Union Silo mural across the street; I see an enormous opportunity with the proposed campground across the river. This area screams potential, and yet the City is tearing it down. I’m struggling with that. 

The decisions we make as a community, the decisions we empower our elected leaders make on our behalf – those decisions are only as good as the information that goes into them. The justification for this purchase took place in private. The City Council has voted to release the records of those discussions, and I hope as I review those records I discover that all these questions and more were considered. Because what I’ve seen so far has left me wanting more.

Josh Wolsky

Developer & Writer @TheMinot Voice, Fan of the Souris River, SavorMinot Advocate. Fortunate to be a 'former' City Council member ;)

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