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City of Glencoe facing multiple expensive projects

To the Editor:
If you haven’t noticed, I’ve received criticism from our local newspaper for pursuing the subject of Glencoe’s excess police charges, which are potentially $850,000 per year according to my own research on police services offered in Wright, Carver and Washington counties. The newspaper’s criticism will not diminish my efforts to bring you news that should be all of our concerns.
A couple of other important city events should be mentioned. First, the city is obligating taxpayers to help finance a corporate developer who is building a 50- to 86-unit apartment building in Glencoe. This process is called “milk the taxpayer,” and it works like this: a corporation decides to build a facility in Glencoe claiming it will bring jobs and better living standards along with an increase in our tax base. If the officials — namely the Economic Development Committee (EDC) and city officials — “hem and haw” too long, the corporation threatens a bidding war with another city. Fearing the loss of competitive housing and loss of increased tax base, our officials fork over tax breaks and gimmicks. Then both parties celebrate the win-win deal praising each other’s “forward-looking vision and integrity.” According to an article written by Jim Hightower in The Lowdown newsletter, these kinds of deals (nation-wide) have skyrocketed in numbers, costing taxpayers over $70 billion a year and affecting nearly every state, county, and city — all flagrantly pimping public resources.
The other event is that the city proposed over $5 million for a central storm sewer. Council Member Allen Robeck, the lone council person against the project, has been unable to stop it. A previous Glencoe city council proposed and passed a project in which 1,100 acres of storm water was to be held by a 27-acre holding pond. Instead of holding to this agreed-upon plan, our current city officials changed course, and we ended up with only about eight acres in ponds, less than one-third than is needed. Rather than building larger ponds to hold more water, our city officials think it is totally acceptable to dump unfiltered water (contaminated with nitrates and phosphates) directly through the city and into Buffalo Creek. In addition to costing citizens more taxes, I’m sure this action will dismay cities downstream, such as Delano.
In trying to stop this storm sewer project, I called and visited with our Buffalo Creek Watershed committee, namely Larry Phillips. I asked how this could be allowed; he had no answer. I then called the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for help; “Kim” said I’d best call the hydrologist, Mr. Bennett. Bennett referred me to Duane Duncanson of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). I called the MPCA where I was told, “I realize your concern, but sorry, no help is available from us.” I even resorted to a letter to a Minneapolis Tribune editor which was relative to his article on drainage concerns. Again, no results. I then wrote to one of the environmental organizations I belong to with little expectations. All these efforts were made after I had met and discussed the project with Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH), Inc., the city’s engineers, at the start of the project. It saddens me that Council Member Robeck — with little help from citizens and no help from fellow council persons (along with my failure) — will lose this important battle in stopping this expensive, anti-environmental and unneeded project.
Please get educated about and involved with the activities in our city.
Gary Ballard
Glencoe