by Dennis Dalman
Sartell Mayor Joe Perske wants to take a city community facility from the back burner and put it very near the top of a city wish list.
In the past, even before he was on the council, Perske often emphasized even though a community center was at or near the top of residents’ wish list, it was never on the city’s wish list where, in Perske’s opinion, it ought to have been.
At the Aug. 13 council meeting, Perske distributed several documents from past years that clearly show the wishes of Sartell residents who participated in surveys, several public meetings and other forms of input, including their voting to approve the half-cent local-option sales tax years ago. A majority of residents favored using sales-tax money to build a community center.
Time and again, residents expressed overwhelming support for two projects especially — a community center and or library and senior center, possibly to be located within a community center.
Perske said the city has virtually ignored the wishes of the citizenry by not putting together plans for what the residents wanted and what they voted for when they passed the sales tax. The city, Perske said, has used sales-tax revenue for the Bernick’s Arena and related developments in Pinecone Regional Park; it has also used such revenue (including nearly $800,000 of it) for development in Pinecone Central Park. It is time, Perske said, to start planning for a community center.
“Let’s not go back and chase our tails again,” he said to the council, adding the city has an obligation to its residents to do the projects they requested.
Perske said such a facility would be possible, especially if the city works with the school district. It would not have to be an expensive structure. Rather, it could be a modest building that could house a library and a senior center.
Council member Sandra Cordie agreed with Perske. So did council members Steve Hennes and David Peterson, but they wondered if perhaps a new survey should be taken since the other input sessions happened six years ago. It would be good, they said, to find out if residents want the same or perhaps some new amenities in a community center.
The council agreed to further discuss the potential for a community center at its next budget workshop, Monday, Aug. 27.