Public hearing is needed
It’s clear the Brainerd City Council needs to conduct a full public hearing before it makes a decision regarding the purchase of the dam at the former Wausau Paper plant in northeast Brainerd.
It’s a big decision that involves considerable financial resources and one that isn’t within the normal realm of council decisions. In other words, the council doesn’t negotiate a deal to buy a dam every day. The price could be more than $4 million as well as ongoing maintenance costs and responsibilities.
As far as we know the Brainerd City Council has every right to meet in closed session on this issue. However, the potential price of this purchase — possibly more than $4 million — and the ongoing maintenance costs and responsibilities that would accompany the purchase make it imperative that all sides of the issue be fully examined. The council makes better decisions when it fully involves staff, outside experts and its citizens.
Buying the dam might be the best decision for the city but there are still many unanswered questions. We have yet to hear anyone fully articulate why the purchase makes sense for the city.
The city shouldn’t let the approaching end of the due diligence period be an excuse for a rushed decision. This due diligence period can likely be extended. There has been no evidence that another potential buyer for the dam has been knocking down the doors.
The Brainerd City Council should take its time on this decision. Supporters of the purchase should fully explain why it makes sense. To rush into a purchase without a full public hearing would be short-sighted and possibly harmful to the interests of the city.