Letter to the Editor August 3, 2016

Dear Editor:
To Maple Lake Messenger, Maple Lake officials – Have Community Park/Sell Out
Sorry about the misinformation in my last letter. Turns out John Northenscold was wrong about the selling price of the lot west of the Messenger office. It sold for $32,000. So, with that corrected information, the lot currently being discussed, three times as large and fronted by three streets, should sell for three times that much. Right?
The Council has deferred action on this proposal, which is much appreciated. Mr. Northenscold suggested preparing a bid sheet which would include stipulations required to be met by prospective purchasers. The current interested purchaser of the property, having offered $30,000 for the oversized lot, says he would be interested and willing to compete on a level playing field, with such a document in place. The city needs to show good faith and a desire to sell the lot to a developer, rather than stall around considering the development of a town square for a farmers market and the few other occasional events sponsored by the city, all of which can be much better organized in our existing park with its massive shade trees, restroom facilities, a wonderful shelter with picnic tables and electrical hookups, etc.
I believe farmers market vendors and customers would have much appreciated the park two Fridays ago when we had the heat advisory and no shelter from the penetrating sun other than their canopies. I was also wrong with my thought of possibly having to remove the current ball field in the community park to accommodate a growing farmers market. There’s plenty of room under shade trees on the east and west side of our park for vendors to sell their produce and crafts and absolutely no competition from kids/ball players on Friday afternoons and evenings.
So, bottom line. What can the lot offer that the park cannot? I posed this question at the council meeting and got no answer other than visibility from the highway, a “window” to downtown. We don’t need such an expensive window when, in fact, we can have another tax producing building generating much-needed activity for our downtown business district. The lot does nothing to promote Maple Lake’s ice fishing contest, Gear-Head activities, St. Patrick’s Day events, Memorial Day celebration, wine tasting event, and lastly, our fledgling farmers market. The community park and/or Irish Stadium are the logical choices for all described events the lot would be competing with. I hope everyone I have spoken with and others recognize the importance of utilizing our existing park to its maximum potential and get over the nonsense that we need a window to the city rather than a productive, tax paying structure built to enhance a pretty much dead downtown in need of resuscitation.
John Haack, Farmers Market manager, Flea Market owner, Museum developer