Editorial: Third time a charm?
We're hopeful that a memorandum of understanding (MOU) authorized Monday night by the Worthington City Council finally brings a significant change to the city's landscape.
It's been three years since Worthington voters approved a local half-cent sales tax that would fund both renovations to Memorial Auditorium and Performing Arts Center and the construction of a new events center. The auditorium work has since been completed to significant acclaim, while the events center project continues to languish.
Let's make one thing clear. The lack of a new events center hasn't been a result of lack of effort.
In June 2008, council members approved a MOU that gave Ruhr Development of Plymouth the exclusive right to negotiate with the city on the proposed event center project. A difficult economic climate ultimately led to the expiration of that agreement in July 2009.
Then, last December, the council approved moving forward with another MOU with Cornerstone Construction of St. Cloud. That proposal included a 64-unit Country Inn & Suites with an indoor pool/water park, among other potential amenities, but that MOU, too, expired without a groundbreaking.
Now comes the latest suitor: Lexington Hotel Development Group of Greendale, Wis., which envisions a 75-unit Comfort Suites and events center for the site along U.S. 59, adjacent to the city's bioscience park. The event center component would be managed by Lighthouse Hospitality Group of MIlwaukee, Wis.
The need for an events center has been clear for years now, and its construction would no doubt be a economic boon to this community. We believe city leaders fully realize this, but also think it's time a memorandum of understanding evolves into something more than an expired document. Maybe this third time around will finally be the charm.