I don't normally post, but couldn't refrain, so here goes:
I work downtown, however the business I work for is not retail nor does it rely on foot traffic downtown. Therefore, I really don't have any skin in the game as far as this benefitting me or not. I even recently had family pictures taken in Arbor Park, so I certainly appreciate what it brings to the table.
Taking into account the above, I cannot fathom the city letting this opportunity pass by. This is a park that is RARELY used for really anything. Yes, as I said, lots of people use it for backdrops for pictures. But there are other places I could go, no problem. We have farmers market every Saturday morning in the summer, Arbor Park sits empty. We have big events such as artfest, Arbor Park sits empty. We have a park that is bigger than Central Park in New York City a couple blocks away. That park has shelters, a path, acres upon acres of green space to use for whatever you want. All the while, nothing happens in Arbor Park. My opinion on this matter would be totally different if I ever saw more than a couple people using Arbor Park for any purpose. To me, this feels very much like the women's hockey issue. They averaged only a couple hundred fans at each game, but then when they get cut, thousands of people were screaming that it was wrong. If those people actually supported the program, it would have been a different story. If everyone who wants to save Arbor Park actually used it ever, this would be an entirely different discussion.
The effect on property tax savings to me is irrelevant. Dollar amount wise, it doesn't matter to the individual citizens. What does matter is that there are $20,000-$25,000 of maintenance costs that the city doesn't have to spend to maintain a rarely used park, and instead can be put to a different, hopefully better, use. If Arbor Park is developed, there will be thousands upon thousands in new property tax revenue to the city once the tax breaks are up. Again, this is money that can be used to further better our city.
Some people view downtown as unimportant or just a place to avoid because it is just a place for younger people to go get drunk. While bars are inevitably a part of downtown, why can't we continue to keep bringing new things in that get people excited about the prospect of going downtown with their families and spending the afternoon walking around. Spend a weekday walking around our downtown. Then, go spend a weekday walking around Fargo's downtown. It is incredible how much better theirs is. They have all sorts of restaurants of different types. They have tons of shopping. The sidewalks are bustling with people of all ages, genders, and races. Downtown is a true destination in Fargo. I don't think the same can be said for Grand Forks in its current state. Think about all that have been added in the last few years. Boutique shops, a bakery, a pharmacy, a brewery, another brewery on the way. Those are great things. New business brings new foot traffic, which helps those new businesses thrive and stay around.
I am glad there are a group of individuals in town that are strongly pushing a great downtown, and actually, a great city overall. They have had some wonderful ideas. For example, the City just won a grant to turn the bike path on the Greenway into a 2 mile long skating path during the winter. How cool is that?! You can take your family for a skate starting this winter. Innovative thinking gets younger people excited about wanting to live in Grand Forks. The future of Grand Forks is directly affected by the ability to attract and retain new residents. Maintaining status quo will not get people excited about moving to Grand Forks or staying in Grand Forks.
The fact that the pro-park crowd refused to accept an invitation to a debate is pretty telling to me. That is your chance to spread your message on why the park should stay. If your argument is strong enough, it doesn't matter who moderates the debate. If your best argument is "there are tons of other places to develop", that is a pretty weak argument. I want to know why we shouldn't develop right here, where we have someone waiting to pump millions into the local economy. Yes they would be willing to develop elsewhere. But they want to develop right here, so if there isn't a good reason not to, then let's get on with it.
All of the above are why I will be voting "No" on June 20.