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Letter: Consider future of Prairie View property carefully

By Alan Oberloh, Worthington I read the Daily Globe story about the offer from the DNR and the plans for reuse of the former Prairie View Golf course with great interest. It seems there is a lack of vision by some and legitimate concerns by other...

By Alan Oberloh, Worthington

I read the Daily Globe story about the offer from the DNR and the plans for reuse of the former Prairie View Golf course with great interest. It seems there is a lack of vision by some and legitimate concerns by other council members.

 

While I agree that the committee that council selected made recommendations on the reuse, they were just that -- recommendations. The council must then do more work to see if those recommendations are actually what is best for the property. Putting blinders on and not allowing oneself to see all possibilities for the reuse is not what is needed.

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The idea of selling for high-end housing or housing in general has been discussed many times in the past, even when the golf course was open. However, due to its location and elevation, the ability to provide city services was not feasible. I appreciate Mr. Janssen's comments because they show attempts to create value to the property and an open mind for additional uses on the property. It was good to read that council was engaged in the discussions, because at many meetings several members give little or no opinions or comments.

I have to believe that, if need be, the property has the ability to be divided, so I question how prudent it would be to sell it at half of its value to the DNR and still be on the hook for the expense of removing structures and planting vegetation. If the council is set on turning the entire property into a nature area, it’s leaving a lot of money on the table. Perhaps a request for bids for the remaining 98 acres is in order while reserving the right to reject all bids should they not be favorable. Even if the land is sold, any covenants and easements on the dedicated water quality sediment ponds would remain with the property.

 

If the city chooses to retain ownership, I really doubt the administrator's estimate of $2,000 per year is even close to the actual cost of maintaining the property. I hope a serious look is given to continued costs on this property, as the golf course was closed because of continued expense to the city.

If I had the ability to offer a vision for the property, it would be for the city to trade the property to Pioneer Village and the Prairie Reapers for property they own next to the fairgrounds. This property is underutilized currently and offers great I-90 exposure, and it could be an excellent commercial or retail business location. The property has a hard-surfaced parking lot, modern bathrooms and much of the land would remain as a nature area. The current clubhouse building could become a visitor center, with meeting rooms, for Pioneer Village. All the Pioneer Village buildings that could be moved to that site, along with the barn, would provide a great setting on rolling ground of an old pioneer town. Prairie Reapers could till up some land on the west side on the property to demonstrate farming as it used to be. They offer great shows during the fair and could expand their efforts.

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Those are my thoughts and visions. I wish council luck in its decisions, and ask that it please consider what is best for the community.

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