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Letter: Oberloh responds to Globe editorial

This letter is in response to the Globe editorial of Feb. 13 regarding economic development. You, Mr. Editor, know as well as anyone the efforts I have made on this community's behalf. I have lobbied hard and secured hundreds of thousands of doll...

This letter is in response to the Globe editorial of Feb. 13 regarding economic development. You, Mr. Editor, know as well as anyone the efforts I have made on this community's behalf. I have lobbied hard and secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in state and federal grants and low interest loans for economic growth in the city, downtown redevelopment grants, site cleanup funds to remove blighted properties, a job zone initiative fund, housing abatement and much more.

 

For many years, your newspaper wrote stories and editorials about the good job that I did while serving the community as mayor. I am still that person; I am not a liberal that caves to popular things because others do. I spend a great deal of time researching each item that comes before council. I ask the tough questions while others sometimes remain silent. As an elected official, I try to do what's best for the community as a whole. Without oversight and the fact finding that I believe in doing, many things would just see a rubber stamp.

 

I objected to a church being located on the land you refer to as across from Olson Park because I thought it was not a good fit, and I offered an alternate site. Did anyone else? I objected to the multi-family development for many reasons, and it was stated that "if not here, where?" An alternate site had already been looked at, and is still available. That area is on North Grand Avenue, where there is already a large multi-family housing unit.

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I objected because of the many calls, visits and emails from citizens who live in the area and several who do not. I feel a development of single or twin homes similar to those located just south of the property in question is the correct fit - not just for now, but for the future residential growth of the city. I never said anything about "rocking the boat in the community's most elite neighborhood" - those are your comments, and they were a bit unexpected. That neighborhood is diverse and proud, and what I hope is a good representation of our community.   I often mention, because of the layout of the community and available infrastructure, the only possible growth for single family homes is on the west side of the city. Take a look around if you disagree - industrial growth on the east side, commercial and airport to the north, no services to the south.

 

The developer was proposing a master development plan to include two 27 unit buildings and a large day care center and a 22-unit assisted living facility and a coffee shop  - we agree on that. However, that was just a plan. The proposed initial development was for one three story building to be built using an $800,000 housing grant, which requires a $400,000 local (city) match. There was no guarantee of further construction, nothing said that the zoning change would allow a coffee shop, and no guarantees of the higher end apartments that were suggested. If the developer would have seriously thought the day care and assisted living was going to be constructed - creating several new full-time jobs - they should have pushed that plan.

 

In the time since this request failed to pass, a developer has come forward to look at a residential home development on the site, and another developer is looking at a multi-family facility on North Grand Avenue. I will support both developments and request City involvement as is available.

 

Perhaps, Mr. Editor, you should not rely on information from your reporters, but gather all the information on an issue before casting your opinion. We are available, council meetings are recorded - the information is there. I am all for retail, entertainment, commercial, industrial and residential growth, whether you believe it or not.

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