A multi-field baseball/softball complex with lights was the top choice for what to do with city-owned land south of the Pequot Lakes Business Park, the Pequot Lakes School Board learned at its monthly work session Monday, Nov. 4.
After hosting seven listening sessions with governing bodies and various groups within the community during the first week of October, ICS Consulting revealed the feedback received in those sessions to the school board. ICS representatives also were to share those results with the Pequot Lakes City Council at its regular meeting Tuesday, Nov. 5.
ICS met with the school board, the city council, local businesses, coaches, students and community members in sessions that were open to the public to discuss how best to use an 85-acre plot of city land south of the business park. Each session had roughly 20 participants who outlined what they perceived as the city’s greatest assets and challenges, as well as how they felt the land could be used for the benefit of the community.
The most common answer for a community enhancement idea - by a margin of 24 votes - was a multi-field baseball/softball complex with lights, with 92 total votes. Soccer and lacrosse fields received 68 votes, while an indoor multi-sport complex garnered 59 votes.
Ideas of a new ice rink or a community center were also popular, garnering 49 and 45 votes, respectively. Those ideas were followed by a pool, additional tennis courts, a hotel or motel or added business and office space.
School Board Chair Kim Bolz-Andolshek asked how the listening session participants were selected, and whether some were residents of the school district but not the city, who would likely be unaffected by the taxation necessary to fund a project on the land.
“We tried building a new gym here and failed,” she said. “I think it is great to see what people are thinking … But you can have people living all over in our community who don’t vote in Pequot proper.”
Bolz-Andolshek then said she would consider publicly requesting the city conduct an online survey about the project for residents who may be unable to attend meetings
“There are a lot of people with young children and a lot of people who don’t read the newspaper,” she said. “We have a lot of constituents who live in Crosslake, and this doesn’t impact them … I would like to know how much of our city did we survey and how much of our district did we survey.
“I really want to know what our taxpayers think of a project that would affect our taxpayers.”
Glenn Chiodo, of ICS, said they did not check for city residents over school district residents in listening sessions. The information they have gathered - while still valuable - should not be the last of the information gathered before any project is decided.
“This won’t be the only information that people try to garner,” Chiodo said. “I suspect even within the city - even though the city has levying authority - there is much, much more that is going to be needed to survey people and get information back. Regardless of what the steering committee comes up with, you are still going to have to find out what people will support and what they will be OK with - not only school district people but the people in general.”
The next step for the possible projects is to form a steering committee, which will meet from 4:30-6 p.m. Thursdays beginning Nov. 7 (excluding Thanksgiving Day). Recommendations from that committee will be brought to the school board and city council in December or January.