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Letter: Elected officials being left out of some decision making

By Alan Oberloh, Worthington

Needless to say, I was quite surprised when I saw the headline in the Wednesday edition of the Daily Globe. A lot of assumptions were made by various people. The idea of a multi-purpose public use facility was very briefly mentioned during our March 31 all-day work session, yet the article seems to suggest we are already heading forward with the project.

Also discussed at greater length was the space needs of the city public works department and public utilities. I brought forward the use of the large blue building on the former soup company site as a new public works department. This would put all of the public works department, which includes the street and parks departments, into one facility and allow for the removal of the current parks department building on First Avenue Southwest known as the Heles building.

I am not saying this is the final use, or saying I do not support the new study for the library/multi use idea, I am trying to point out that there are decisions being made without even informing respective elected officials of the direction they are heading.

I attended the Worthington Citizens for Progress meeting on Monday night to be better informed on their concerns on school facilities, and one "takeaway" I had from that meeting was the apparent lack of transparency by those involved. When I ran for City Council last fall, it was because of my concern for the lack of transparency in city government, as well as very little discussion of items of great importance and more discussion on items of little or no impact to the city. I would have thought that before the concept of a new joint school, library and office facility was brought forward, the City Council would have completed a space needs study to determine if the building is not needed by any city department.

The mention of public purpose covenants was not correct, as only the part of the property that received the grant for demolition of the factory buildings were subject to "public purpose" use. The construction of the fire hall met the terms of the grant.

As an individual who is elected to represent the city I would have to ask that, according to the proposal, where is the city component of this collaborative effort? Collaboration is great when those involved all see benefits of such collaboration.

This project, which now seems to have been discussed by administration and some elected members, could and should have been mentioned during committee and administrative reports to respective boards to inform the rest of the direction things were heading.

I hope the council, working as a team, decides to take a step back and complete a study to determine if the property is not needed by the city, and that we won't be coming back in a few years asking for levy increases to construct a new public works facility.

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