Letter to the Editor July 20, 2016

Letter to the Editor:
Building vs. Town Square
This whole issue started out as a “no brainer” for me. Sell the public lot and get it back on the tax rolls, as originally planned. Well, interesting information surfaces as one waits out a quick transaction. Thank you, city leaders, for allowing public input. The letters to the editor have been interesting… but…
Turns out apparently the person wanting to buy the lot for $30,000 just sold a lot half its size on the other side of the Messenger building for $80,000. I understand they were asking $90,000. While the city has in the past sold city owned property for next to nothing (old Maple Lake liquor store went for a $1 to a local insurance agent who agreed to keep an operable laundromat up and running), the “condemned building” was resuscitated and now is a firm anchor on the end of Birch Avenue, and I assume, once again on the tax rolls.
So, sell the lot for $30,000 to someone promising to put it back on the tax rolls while allowing our library to be located within (like the promise with the laundromat from years ago), sounds good on the surface but it is a mere real estate flipping for profit operation. $100,000 would not be unreasonable for that corner lot given the baseline sale just mentioned.
In the meantime, the lot is a good site for the Farmer’s Market, Gear-Head Get Together, etc. Yes, that can all be moved to the community park if need be, when a serious prospective buyer comes forward with a reasonable offer. Time is on our side. The real estate market is once again flourishing. Let’s not jump in and accept this ridiculous $30,000 offer. The old community park can abandon its existing ballfield (how many does the city and school district need to maintain??). The site has trees to shade vendors and shoppers and has immediate on-site restroom facilities. This whole square block would make a wonderful “public square”.
This “no-brainer” is obviously more complex than many realize. I agree with Tricia Manuel. Let’s give it a rest for at least a couple council meetings, while all the facts are brought forward. Again, thank you city officials for your circumspect consideration of what this city really needs!
John Haack
Maple Lake Farmer’s Market manager, Maple Lake Flea Market owner, Maple Lake Museum developer