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Reader Opinion: An alley to nowhere

My Neighbor to Love Coalition is trying to create badly needed housing, but the Brainerd City Council is creating hardships.

Stack of newspapers on a laptop computer.
We are part of The Trust Project.

We made the Brainerd lakes area home decades ago and contributed to making Brainerd a wonderful place to live. By creating over 525 jobs through our business Universal Pensions (now Ascensus), we improved the lives of its residents and significantly impacted the local economy. I was one of the original founders of BLAEDC because I care about the growth of our community. My wife, JoAnn, and I want to ensure Brainerd’s children have a safe place to grow so we supported the YMCA. We care about those struggling with addiction, so we support Teen Challenge. Our hospital needed a cardiac addition. We knew it could save lives, so we invested in that, too, along with several other worthy causes.

Recently, we saw the desperate need for housing, especially for those without and who are at risk for losing their home. My Neighbor to Love Coalition is trying to solve this problem by creating badly needed housing. We believe in their project so much that we have contributed $400,000 to help get it started. They asked the city to vacate a strip of land (a dead-end alley on paper), so they can better develop their property. Brainerd’s city attorney and engineer recommended the alley be vacated, yet the majority on our city council denied the application twice.

This development is something Brainerd could be proud of by making a lasting change in the lives of its residents. Brainerd’s city council could be supportive and seen as a forerunner solving this housing crisis; instead, they create hardships which is a disgrace. This development will proceed anyway because of those who are willing to step up, do the work, and pay the expenses. I have never been so disappointed in our city council.

Arnie Johnson

Lake Shore

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