Open up the discussion
Consider this editorial the equivalent of a March television rerun. We’re going to repeat our call for a full public hearing on the planned purchase of the dam at the former Wausau paper plant in northeast Brainerd.
Since our first call for a public hearing, three weeks ago, additional information has been disclosed by Brainerd Public Utilities (BPU) officials on the potential purchase of the dam. The new information includes the BPU’s dollar estimate of the net savings that would be realized by the city with the purchase of the dam ($250,000 to $300,000 per year) and the cost of needed upgrades ($1.2 to $1.5 million for a rebuilt spillway apron; approximately $330,000 for water and sewer connections to the site; and automation improvements of between $100,000 and $200,000.
While these numbers are helpful, the dam purchase’s sole opponent, Brainerd City Council member Mary Koep, recently submitted a list of other pertinent questions to BPU about how the city would operate the dam.
Other than casting their “yes” votes, most of the city’s elected officials have been stunningly silent on this issue. We’re anxious to hear reasons detailing why council members think a purchase of the dam is in the city’s best interests. The Commentary pages of this newspaper are open to any of the opponents or proponents on the council who would like to state their positions.
Koep was correct when she stated that transparency has been a stranger in this project. Council members should state their case for or against a dam purchase and also let members of the public ask questions and state their opinions. A little more openness about the proposed dam purchase will serve both the council and the citizens in the long run.