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Think before taking park land

August 24, 2012
The Journal

To the editor:

We write today to make several comments concerning the proposed water tower in Nehls park. As a kid growing up in the Wallachei, I remember well the hilltop area above New Ulm. At that time (1950-1965) the golf course was only a nine-hole course. There was corn growing in the surrounding fields. From the top of the Payne Street hill to Tenth South there were very few residences. I do remember the Hintz house and their horses. I also remember the Nehls "farm." They had a huge garden and often on summer afternoons they would be parked downtown in front of Woolworth's or Herberger's, their produce propped on the hood of the car. The first farmers market?

The story has been told about how the city came to own the Nehls property. I am not sure of the year, but know that several years passed without any action. We, my wife Cathy, Derek, Maggie and myself, moved to the development in that neighborhood in 1978. For the first few years Derek and Maggie had the run of the neighborhood, but as we approached the mid '80s there were no more empty lots. Nowhere to play. Lincoln Park was the closest park to us. That involved a car ride.

One day Maggie said to me, "Dad, How come we don't have anywhere to play?" I explained to her about the Nehls property and the proposed park. We discussed what could be done and we decided that she would write a letter to the city. When she came back with the letter and a petition, signed by some of the kids, I was a very proud dad. The council took her letter to heart and started plans to do some development. Of course, government being what it is, it took several years for any development to happen, but I know today she feels very good about her first attempt at changing something that she didn't feel was right. Maggie and her family, the Conrad's, live in New Ulm today and hope that some reasonable resolution to this issue can be made.

So, as the Roiger family feels just a little bit of ownership, we write today with several comments and questions.

The golf course today is 18 holes. After the second nine was developed, the city decided that it was time to increase the water capacity for the hilltop area of the city. They revealed plans that had been on record for a long, long time. They were to build the storage in the middle of the golf course. There were lots of outraged people at the prospect of a huge water tank on the golf course. The city's response ? these plans were on the books for years. It was built and to this day it looks terrible in the middle of a golf course. Our question is ? what happened to long-term planning? Did not the city know that the Hermann Heights tower was old and crumbling? Did not the city know that increasing the runway at the airport would result in new, more restrictive rules that would be placed on development? Did not the city see that every available piece of property was being developed in housing? Did not the city see and realize that retail development would be expanding west along Highway 14? Apparently not. If they had they would have "long standing" plans for infrastructure for the hilltop.

Please don't make another mistake and place another water tower in a recreation area. Mr. Mayor, Council President, Council and City Administrator, I urge you to sit down and take a long hard look at what is going to happen in the next 30 years. How much more sewer, water, drainage and other infrastructure will have to be built? Don't saddle the city of charm and tradition with another eyesore in a recreation area.

Think about it.

Thanks in advance for doing just that.

Greg Roiger

Sleepy Eye

Maggie Conrad Roiger

Kendal Conrad

Kaiser Conrad

New Ulm



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