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 Burt Nypen and Vicki Oakes EDA vision for Ortonville

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PostSubject: Burt Nypen and Vicki Oakes EDA vision for Ortonville   Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:55 pm

AT the recent Ortonville City Council meeting a side comment was made by Craig Randelman that got little notice at the time but the more one thinks about it the more it seems significant. There is no doubt that Burt Nypen, Vicki Oakes, Lavelle Berkner and others have been big promoters of the Minnesota Housing Partnership and the Small Cities Development Grant Program. I cannot remember the exact quote by Councilman Craig Randelman but it was something along the lines about the Comprehensive Plan. He stated that there were other cities that had been originally involved in this kind of project but that the City of Ortonville was the only one left still doing it.

That statement is profound. This make one put two and two together to get four. At a time when money was flowing freely and the government was backing the banks and promoting housing cities were jumping on the bandwagon for "free money" from the government. Now that the banks have had to be bailed out and the housing market is bottomed out evidently every other town has read the writing on the wall and dropped the ball. Except Ortonville. Why is the Ortonville EDA still hanging onto a dying plan?

Perhaps reality has not set in yet for some people. Burt Nypen and Vicki Oakes are still carrying the banner. Along with Lavelle Burkner, Craig Randelman, Artie Arndt, and whoever else they can muster to their side and push through an agenda that reads something like this. They seem to want to make the downtown "Historical" and draw all kinds of tourists to the area and spend money. That, in a nutshell, appears to be the economic development plan of the EDA, Chamber, Historical Society, BSAG, and whoever else.

It is a pretty picture but it needs a reality check. In the first place they keep talking about the lake like it is a prize draw. Now, I don't mean to be disparaging about our lake but we do need to be realistic here if the plan is going to work. Let's face it. Minnesota has 10,000 lakes. This one little lake on the outskirts of the state isn't going to draw much attention unless it has a great deal going for it.

We all have had concerns about the smell and the blue-green algae that shows up every year and the weeds make it near impossible to use a sailboat. Rather than ignore the problems we need to address them so that the lake can be a nice place to go. Let's face it. For the size of the lake Big Stone is not used much by the locals. When we first moved here we put out our canoes and sailboats. (We kept pulling weeds off the rudder but each year the weeds got worse till it became near impossible to sail.) We met new locals and invited them out and many enjoyed it and talked about how they had a row boat, or canoe that had been sitting in the garage for 10 or 20 years and maybe they should get it out again. There was only one person who regularly put their sailboat out. For the most part this lake is not used by locals. Question: Why would anyone else come here to use something even we don't use.

When we first came here the bottom of the lake was filled bumper to bumper with trucks and boat trailers during the fishing contests. Over the years the number of vehicles dwindled and now when the contests come up there aren't near as many boats as there used to be. Has participation gone down?

When a town puts all their eggs in the tourism basket they become dependent on an up economy. People don't travel as much. It becomes a luxury. You are trying to grab the disposable income market and face it in a down economy there is less disposable income to work with.

So what do we have left of the EDA vision of Burt, Vicki, Craig, Lavelle, Artie, Jim Larsen, Blair Johnson, and the others? Not much. We see the EDA and Chamber favoring the few while we see more stores closing downtown. We see income leaving the community as people shop out of town but the "in crowd" of the EDA and Chamber still get their share. We are told that visitors are treated rudely on the golf course and the lake is not a draw when it smells bad and has blue-green algae.

The Big Stone Lake area needs a new vision of cleaning up resources. A new vision of neighborly love, kindness and respect for one another. I think there is hope for this community, if the people want it, but it involves assessing the real needs and resources of the area and working together with a doable plan. People need to come together and not promote their pet projects but look at what the area really needs and work toward that goal. The silent majority needs to be silent no more. handshake

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Our citizens may be deceived for awhile, and have been deceived;
but as long as the presses can be protected,
we may trust to them for light.
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