by Dennis Dalman
It’s long overdue that plans move ahead so construction can begin on a Sartell Community Center, according to two residents who spoke at the Nov. 24 Sartell City Council meeting.
In separate turns at the microphone during Open Forum time, Maggie Kramer and Peter Olson told the council a community center would be a huge plus for the city. Open Forum is the time before each council meeting when anyone can have five minutes to express any concerns.
Kramer told the council she moved to Sartell in the summer of 2012, despite the city not having several amenities on her “Must Have” wish list, such as: no hospital, no college and no access to the Northstar passenger rail line. Now, she has one more item on her “Must Have” list – a Sartell Community Center.
One day, a neighbor told her about a Trivia Night hosted by the Sartell Senior Connection. Since she and her husband are big Jeopardy fans, they decided to join the fun. Twenty-three people met for Trivia Night in what Kramer described to the council as a “too-small room” in the School District Service Center. Now an active member of the Senior Connection, she said she has learned first-hand the importance of having a community center, one that could include a senior center.
It’s vital, she said, that seniors stay active physically and mentally, as well as socially engaged with other people.
“It’s time to act,” she said, adding voters have twice expressed a strong desire for a community center, giving the city a citizen mandate to create one.
Kramer said she has heard about obstacles to building a center, such as it requiring staffing and just where to build one, whether to buy land for it or build it on current city-owned land. All improvements require staffing, she said.
“Don’t let that topic hinder building a community center,” she added.
She challenged the council to make a decision and to act.
An ongoing city topic is how to attract more businesses and expand the tax base. Building a vibrant center, Kramer said, would be a strong incentive for businesses to put down roots in the city.
She urged the council to make a decision “now” so in two years residents can enjoy a center.
Peter Olson, a retired band director from Walker, moved to Sartell in 1985.
He recalls years ago, when the name “Sartell” came up, people would say, “Where is Sartell?”
Since those days, Sartell is widely known, mainly because of the phenomenal growth of the city in the past two decades.
Many friends of Olson’s throughout his life have lived where there are community centers. Such a place in Sartell, he said, would be a great way to support the arts, such as a community band, music lessons, the visual arts and a base for community activities.
“A community center could put the finishing touches on a great community and give us additional visibility,” Olson said. “It’s something we all could enjoy.”