If you have chosen to get the information, you should be considering a ‘yes’ vote. If you’re firmly in the ‘no’ camp, these arguments won’t convince you to change your mind. I’m going to say them anyway.
Minot Needs a Place for Year-Round, Active Recreation
With the MARC proposal, the Park District has presented us with a concept that is more than a health club, more than a pool, and more than a couple basketball courts. What we’re considering in this election is a vote on true public space. What we’re talking about building is a ‘park’, it just happens to be mostly inside. And that is a good thing.
North Dakota weather is challenging — whatever the season. Be it the cold, wind, or the mosquitos, we have to fight to enjoy our active recreation. It’s why we savor our summers and nice days the rest of the year — they’re precious because they’re rare.
I for one would love to have a public space like the MARC. I would drive to use it personally; I believe it would be an asset to our community.
This is a Good Plan Developed by an Experienced Team
There is a lesson to be learned from the Ward County administration and jail building fiasco and the downtown parking garage boondoggle (making progress!), but it is not ‘quit trying’. The lesson we as a community need to take away from our recent poorly executed projects is ‘find a way to do it better’.
Estimating operational and construction costs are not dark arts. If you have experience running and building recreational centers, getting the costs right in different situations becomes a simple tweak of an equation. With the MARC, the Park District has thus far put this project in capable, experienced hands. IBIS Enterprises and Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative are as qualified as they come in projects like this. They have proven track records that include successful completions both in North Dakota and Minot.
If the proposal is approved, is it possible we’ll see some changes or hiccups along the way? Of course it is; we’re not approving a construction contract; we’re voting on an idea and concept plan. But we can and should be confident that it is a good plan.
Yes, even government is capable of learning from past mistakes.
Flood Protection or the MARC? No, This is Not an Either/Or Decision
We’ve been told from day one that flood protection was going to be a long process, and no doubt many of you are frustrated by what you can’t see happening. But the wheels are turning. City officials are hopeful that the first stage — protecting the water treatment plant — will get underway in the very near future.
And right now, we’ve got a full half-cent in sales tax dedicated to paying for flood protection. The $6+ million in yearly revenues from this allocation are more than enough to cover our imminent costs and keep the project moving.
Yes, we will need our state legislators to bring more dollars. Yes, we will have to find some more money in the local kitty. But if you’ve chosen to get up to speed on how we spend our existing sales tax dollars, you can see how a successful MARC vote might highlight some redundant allocations (hint: Community Facilities). It’s likely our second penny would need some reform. And if we chose to allocate some portion of that towards flood protection, we’d have a lot of annual revenue in place to finance our local share.
Is this the direction we’ll go? I have no idea, but I see a walkable path to financing our share of flood protection without additional taxes.
The Proposed Tax Model for the Park District is Right On!
Minot’s park system is a regional attraction, and it serves area residents far beyond city limits. And don’t think for a second that amenities like the Roosevelt Park Zoo and Pool, the MAYSA Arena, and Souris Valley Golf Course are a 100% self-sufficient. They’re not. Minot property owners have been making up the difference for years. A sales tax funded park district is a more equitable solution in a regional center like Minot.
Is the highest sales tax rate in the state one of those less-desirable titles? Yes, no community wants that label. But if you consider the challenges Minot has faced and will face in both the recent past and near future, perhaps having a modestly higher sales tax rate than other large communities is acceptable. Maybe it should even be expected.
Minot is a Water Town, Let’s Embrace it!
And here’s a tidbit you might not be aware of — in the last 40 years, Minot High boys and girls swimming programs have won 49 state titles. Unless we build a facility like the MARC, we won’t ever be able to witness them winning one in their home pool again.
On Tuesday, the considered vote is ‘Yes’ for the MARC and ‘Yes’ for Minot!