by Dennis Dalman
A suggestion to open city spaces for public uses was nixed by the Sartell City Council at its last meeting.
Council member Amy Braig-Lindstrom said she would like to see more public use of places such as the Sartell City Hall council chamber and atrium, as well as the Pine Ridge Golf Course pro building in the winter months. Braig-Lindstrom said she was approached by residents several times about opening city hall to public uses, including once from a woman who said she’d like to host a baby shower in it, as well as from someone wanting to use city hall as a venue for a grieving-support group for students. Braig-Lindstrom said taxpayers funded the building and so it should be opened for public uses. The city hall does provide the venue for the winter farmers’ market.
“It’s important for taxpayers to know how we feel about public use of public spaces,” Braig-Lindstrom said.
In response to her request, several council members noted a community center should be up and running in a couple of years or so, which will be a good place for public meetings.
Council member David Peterson said he is not averse to expanding usage for city hall eventually, but not unless the community center does not get built in a timely fashion – within two years.
Sartell City Administrator Mary Degiovanni said the city rarely gets requests from residents to use city hall. Braig-Lindstrom said if the space was made available and people knew it, demand would likely follow.
Council member Sarah Jane Nicoll said she thinks there is no need to extend the use of city hall or the golf-course building, noting that to weatherize the building for winter is cost-prohibitive. She also said city hall is not an appropriate place for such events as baby showers and a grief-support group would be more comfortable in a school or church venue.
All council members agreed the issue could be considered again, especially if there are any delays on building a community center.
Nicoll then made a motion to take no action on Braig-Lindstrom’s request and to let the current city-hall-use policy stand as is.
The council voted 4-1 against the request.