Monday, July 21, 2014

It's Just a Lake

I have to admit--this man makes a hell of a lot more sense than anyone else:
“This is a lake crucial to the Albert Lea community and to its quality of life,” stated the Tribune Thumbs on March 16.
Thirty years ago, Fountain Lake was clean. Population: 18,000. With two interstates, Interstate 35 and Interstate 90, surely Albert Lea will grow. Today’s population: 18,000. Through the years it was if we only had a state-of-the-art high school. This was built. Still no growth. Perhaps a new courthouse and jail? This was done. Still no growth. Now it is clean lakes.
Chad Adams, Albert Lea city manager, must believe the economy is OK. Perhaps selling the Freeborn National Bank building to developers will help find buyers for the empty stores.
Susie Petersen, executive director for the Albert Lea Convention & Visitors Bureau, remarks in the Albert Lea Tribune article, “Council asks input on local sales tax”: “If we can get dredging and clean up our lakes, we are going to get thousands of jobs and people will come here.”
Ryan Nolander, executive director of the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency, stated in his article in the Progress Edition, Feb. 23, “The biggest concern for Albert Lea is lack of workforce.”
I believe Mr. Nolander. Graduates continue year after year to leave. Why?
Fountain Lake is surrounded by homeowners. They will benefit by a clean lake, as well as Albert Lea Bayside Skiers and fishermen. It has nothing to do with new business coming to Albert Lea.
City officials hate when Albert Lea is referred to as a “retirement village.” A recent statement in the Albert Lea Tribune letters to the editor make reference to Albert Lea as a good place to retire.
Minnesota is noted for its 10,000-plus lakes. Visitors are going to come to Albert Lea to see Fountain Lake? Visitors will go to see Horman’s Spam Museum. Enough said!Bob Mares
Albert Lea
Now, could recreation bring in jobs? It sure could, but probably not the kinds of jobs needed to support families and it certainly couldn't bring in enough of them. The added value of a clean lake, however, would speak to quality of life.

If you're going to bring in new jobs, new people, and keep the people who live in Albert Lea, you have to have jobs AND quality of life. But that quality of life initiative is not going to be your job creation machine; it will help sell the community and it will improve things, but it is not where you should put all of your effort.

Jobs, jobs, jobs. It really does come down to that as a priority for the community. If you're living in a big house on Fountain Lake and if your biggest concern is the crap in the water that is keeping you from having it all, well, there are a lot of people who don't ever get to go out on the lake because they're broke who kind of should come first in the equation, don't you think?

At the end of the day, it's just a lake. It's vital for the whole quality of life initiative that could turn the community around. But jobs do have to come first. That's the part that Bob Mares gets better than anyone.

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