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A water park – really?

February 16, 2014

To the editor: My issue with a water park in New Ulm is the timing....

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Feb-16-14 8:50 AM

Ruthie really nailed it with this letter, we are in a bad stretch of the economy right now and we want new schools and waterparks? Increased taxes during an economy like this could be the thing that drives Kraft to leave this town. We know the cost of utilities has them complaining about the cost of doing business in New Ulm, let's slap some more property tax on them .If they decide to leave imagine the devastation to the town . This is just not the time for spending , go ahead and plan ,but keep the check book closed for now.

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Feb-16-14 8:21 PM

3m also talks all the time about how much money they could save if they built a plant in another town do to utilities and taxes.

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Feb-17-14 12:00 AM

Kraft is already in talks to sell the plant to the Davis family (LeSueur Cheese, Cambria). If this goes through, you can expect wages to drop by at least 30% right off the bat.

Have you ever looked at an Energy tag on a new appliance? They list the national average for electricity at something like 11 or 12 cents per KWH. That is exactly what we pay in our houses, so this whole notion that New Ulm is so much higher than average boggles me.

Kraft should consider itself lucky that they don't have XCel as their utility provider. I have dealt with numerous customers that have had frequent problems with single-phasing, brown outs, and extreme voltage fluctuation. The quality and reliability of New Ulm PUC is worth something.

Companies are used to complaining. In southern states, they get taxpayers to fork over millions of dollars a year in subsidies for the promise of bringing jobs to their area. Corporate welfare runs rampant and these companies are likely looking for the same.

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Feb-17-14 10:28 AM

A city that doesn't move forward has no choice but to move backward. If the majority of people don't want a water park what is it that they do want in order to move forward ?

Festivals will only go so far to drawing people here. And old time music and beer will only appeal to a certain and limited demographic.

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Feb-17-14 12:20 PM

mcw , how many jobs and homes do you think a waterpark will bring? Say you spend a million dollars for it , collect enough fees to cover maintenance, utilities , insurance and labor. You still have a million dollars you have to tax the citizens for. Now take the same million dollars and "give " to Kraft or 3M to come to your town. If they bring 300 jobs , these people all need homes and have families of 3 or more. You have just increased your population by a 1,000 people,300 new houses paying an average of $1500 in property taxes = $450,000/year. Plus any jobs that feed into the company such as trucking or making parts. This is why they give the money to these companies that they do, it's called investing. Or you can do nothing and keep the population at 13,000 as it has been for the past 50 years. Also look in your retirement , you probably have shares in those evil companies.

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Feb-17-14 12:29 PM

In business you need to look after your primary customers( Kraft -3M), if they are complaining you had better be listening. They will go somewhere that offers a better deal . With the volume of utilities they use they should be given a discount , once the decide to leave it will be to late to make offers. Waterparks bring tourists ,you need families building in town because they have jobs,a waterpark would be on the bottom of my list if I were looking for a town to move to. To grow a community you have to invest. Complaining about Kraft or telling them they should consider themselves lucky would more likely drive them out of town. I don't live there, so what do I know or care.

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Feb-18-14 7:58 AM

I get the 3M/Kraft concern, but they aren't the end all to this town as many people think. This comment is too short to fully look at economics, but instead of focusing on a couple big fish, you can fill up on many smaller fish. There are many smaller businesses in town that employ folks that are growing significantly because their industry is growing. 3M, Kraft are in manufacturing industries that are constantly incorporating technology (automation) into their production efficiencies, which means less and less dependence on actual people. Companies like Parker, Beacon, DLC, North Central, MVTL, Frontier Labs, etc are in growing industries and combined will add many more and better paying jobs than the big 2 in the next 5 years. I'm not saying I want 3M, Kraft out, it's just let's look at the big, economic picture here and not get pigeon-holed by the big 2.

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Feb-18-14 9:43 AM

Not the time for spending but this town seems to be doing plenty of it to keep it's Senior Citizens happy. I'm not saying that that is not important, because it is, but wow. I will say personally this issue is one of 100 of why I will not return to my hometown to raise a family. What I would worry more about with Kraft and 3M is the inability to recruit quality employees that plan on staying and raising a family because we certainly aren't making this town look very attractive to that demographic. Again, glad I'm not there anymore. I had a pool to swim in when I was.

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Feb-18-14 9:45 AM

I get so tired of hearing how bad our gov't is and what rough shape the economy is in. This winter my in laws have twice tried to stay at local hotels, but all were filled. Hour + wait at Mankato eating establishments on weekend nights. Our friend works in the shop of a local car dealership and said that they sold more new cars in 2013 then he can remember in is 9 years of working there. I work at a top 5 employer in NU had we hired a ton of people in recent months. We love using the "state of the economy" excuse anytime our taxes might go up. It should be known that I 95% of the time vote republican.

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Feb-18-14 11:37 AM

The trouble with Kraft /3M is they employ over 10% of your workforce in town. If one of them closes it sends a ripple through the community that can be devastating , but can be overcome. If a small business closes it does not have the same impact. The thing to keep in mind is they are a global company , they do not make decisions based on how the hiring or economy is locally. The person that makes the decision to close a plant is not even in this town. So you cannot really compare these business's to a bunch of small ones . The only way to overcome this is to grow your small business base , usually by offering incentives just as you would to a large company except on a smaller scale. Caterpillar was a profitable center , but was shut down due to corporate making a decision, once they decide to leave there is no negotiating at that point. Don't let the big fish get off the hook.

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Feb-18-14 11:41 AM

Let's do a comparison between New Ulm and St. Peter. *Since 2000, STP population has grown by 15%! NU has declined by .53% *Other communities in ISD 88 boundaries, Searles-drop of 28%, Hanska-drop of 9%, Lafayette-drop of 5%. *STP will ask voters to pass a $55 bond referendum to build a new school. If past trends hold true in STP, it will pass in favor by a 2-1 margin. *Average median household income in STP-$46,919, NU-$46,340. A slight difference of only $579! Enough with funding the Battery, Concord Singers, Bock Fest Boys, Herman the German, etc.! Wake up New Ulm! Sorry Ruthie, but we need to be concerned about our growth, or lack there of. Young families don't stick around because Schell's comes out with a new flavor twice a year, to hear Molly B at the Blast, or the Concord Singers Monday nights at German Park. Wake up at get your priorities straight or watch the decline continue.

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Feb-18-14 11:46 AM

As far as the economy being good, we are 17 trillion dollars in debt and still rising ,high unemployment, the world economy's are weak at best. The fed has printed a lot of money that it will have to pull back in or we will be going into inflation like we will have never seen before. Everybody thought the economy was great when they were buying houses left and right ,than the recession hit. Anytime a bubble is created (fed printing money , supporting commodity prices, housing assistance) it will either pop or somebody has to reign the program back under control(unlikely). Our debt might be the one that takes us over the edge, this could be the calm before the next storm.

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Feb-18-14 5:36 PM

I don't think making a comparison between St. Peter and New Ulm is accurate or fair. Much of the increased development in St. Peter came after the terrible tornado that destroyed large sections of the city. The influx of money during the recovery period and its timing really had much to do with the growth they have seen. It really has nothing to do with one city being successful and the other not but more of what resulted after a natural disaster.

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Feb-18-14 7:12 PM

JReader-What is not accurate? How would a natural disaster correlate with a 15% population growth? I checked on Siren, WI and Anoka, MN, both towns that had historic twisters and both have seen a decrease in population. Not sure your argument works. I work in New Ulm, as well as being born and raised in New Ulm, but my wife and I choose to reside in St. Peter to raise our children. Until New Ulm realizes that education and youth are more important then Schells Beer and Herman the German, it will continue to see a population decline. New Ulm gets excited for the Blast and Bock Fest, while St. Peter gets excited to build a new school. Its hard for me to say that as my heart with always be in New Ulm.

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Feb-19-14 7:18 AM

Deerhunt, why do you say that Kraft and 3M are evil? They have provided good jobs in New Ulm for over 50 years.

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Feb-19-14 10:37 AM

MCW , read your posts vs mine , who is more pro business? That was sarcasm because everyone seems to put the corporate business's down as being greedy , even though they own stock in these companies through their retirement plans.By all means , build your waterpark, I'm sure Kraft will stay because of that.

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Feb-19-14 11:46 AM

I am very much pro business. The difference between you and I is that you think that the guy at the top should get all the money and tax breaks and loopholes and I disagree with that. It is the employees that make companies profitable. Companies, such as Kraft, that have a history of rewarding good employees with good pay and good benefits have a good place in our economy. They also have loyal employees that work hard for their employer.

Back to the issue at hand, if a city has nothing to attract families, good companies will have a more difficult time attracting good employees.

Kraft and 3M won't be paying much for a water park funded by the expiring half percent sales tax.

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Feb-19-14 12:24 PM

MCW , show me one post where I believe that the guy on top should get all the money ,loopholes, etc. Read your first paragraph about all the good that Kraft has brought to town. My point is you are better off taking a million dollars and luring the next Kraft or a group of small Kraft's to town instead of building a waterpark. Your population has not grown over the past 50 years ,Kraft is in an outdated building and your community is doing nothing to retain them or replace them with a bunch of smaller business's. Your population growth speaks volumes about how pro business your town is. We are not situated on a major road as St.Peter and Mankato, we are at the end of the line going west, even with a four lane we are the last stop . Communities in that situation need to be proactive in offering incentives to draw big and small business. It has become a tourist town over the past 50 years ,not an industrial hub. Maybe your waterpark is a better fit for your overall plan.

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Feb-19-14 1:18 PM

How much money per capita did St. Peter get vs. Anoka and Siren ? And, what were the overall economic conditions that prevailed during each of these periods. I'm in no way criticizing St. Peter for what they have done. They have done a marvelous job in coming back and being stronger today.

Your opinion is that people in New Ulm don't care about our youth as much as the people of St. Peter. I completely disagree with that notion. I think the people here in New Ulm care just as deeply about their children as the people in St. Peter do. There is nothing you have stated that demonstrates anything to the contrary. The tornado lead St. Peter on a pathway to great success and that success was also achieved by good planning. It has nothing to do with one group having greater dedication to their children than any other group including us parents in New Ulm.

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Feb-19-14 2:22 PM

JReader-Are you kidding me? Park & Rec. gets the ax more then any city dept. year after year. A majority of school levies have failed and when they do pass its by the slightest margin. We will see what materializes with this water park and possible ISD 88 building referendum. The Civic Center would have never been built if they didn't tie in the Senior Center with it.

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Feb-19-14 3:11 PM

Are we building a new Kraft or a waterpark? Where did the money come from for a Putting green (which is a joke to most) and the great Grand Hotel now featuring art for future artist. Like they stay in New Ulm.Just more money in someone's pocket for all that.

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Feb-19-14 5:25 PM

So Jessica, the only way to show that we care about our kids is to spend more money on them ? No wonder we live in the entitlement generation.

The civic center was built as well as the senior center because the city was able to get a local sales tax passed through the legislature. So just how does the senior center play into the civic center getting built in your mind ?

District 88 pays a hefty tab to the city to rent the civic center so kids can play hockey. Those lease payments are directly taxed to the property owners of the district. So, every property owner helps support our high school athletes who choose to play hockey. I consider that being supportive. And, every time I purchase goods in New Ulm I'm helping to pay off the bonds used to finance the civic center.

I'm sure if it is decided that New Ulm just can't live without a water park they will work to get the local sales tax extended.

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Feb-19-14 5:49 PM

Having a facility in which kids can swim is entitlement? How dare you kids in New Ulm have a water park!

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Feb-20-14 1:51 AM

I doubt that using the 1/2% sales tax to attract another "Kraft" or other small businesses would ever pass the legislature, anyway. To my knowledge, no community has ever used it for such a purpose. Why should tax dollars be given to corporations to lure them in? It is bad enough that southern states hand over billions of dollars to foreign automobile companies.

A water park, preferably an indoor/outdoor one would be heavily used. Every indoor or outdoor water park our family has visited has always been packed.

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Feb-20-14 4:51 AM

I see many valid points and concerns here but I still have to put in my two cents. First off, has anyone noticed how banged up the South end of Broadway is? There are potholes galore. Secondly, if the idea behind the water park is to bring both entertainment and money to the community, wouldn't it make more sense to invest in something that can be used year round? We do have a public swimming pool already. We have had an outdoor municipal pool in the past. Maybe an internet/gaming cafe would be more beneficial?

As far as artists go, we don't all leave the area. Brushing the new arts building off is a slap in the face to any local artist. Slamming businesses is quite pointless as well. Regardless of the size, they do employ people and there are not dozens of jobs just leaping out.

And if we're going to complain about the government, we need to be active in changing it. "We the People" rings a bell. Well...we are THE people!

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