It's money, or a lack of it.

If you believe the message in the lyrics of the famous song, “For the Love of Money,” people are capable of doing some pretty bad things, all in the name of getting their hands on as much cold, hard cash as they can. They’ll steal, lie, hurt people and even sell themselves to get the “almighty dollar.”

    City of Crookston officials want as much money for their community as they can attain, too, but they have to be reasonable in how they go about it. If they steal or lie to get it, well, they’re probably going to find themselves scalding in some seriously hot water.

    So, instead of being violent or immoral, city officials have to simply prioritize. Thus, we have the city council’s latest list of “strategic priorities,” which are broken into three categories of urgency: Must Do, Should Do, and Could Do. Last week in this space, we took a look at the priorities labeled as “Must Do,” and even though none of them come free of charge, it’s been determined by people elected or paid to determine such things that the necessary amount of money needs to be invested in order to make them happen.

    But there’s no money tree, no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. So when money is expended on “Must Do” priorities, it leaves “Should Do” and “Could Do” priorities patiently waiting for their opportunity to advance from possibility to reality, if that opportunity ever comes.

    Absolutely, the city “Should Do” an improvement project on the site once the Z Place and Rock’s Jewelry buildings are demolished. Otherwise, it’ll just be an ugly corner. The same goes for incentives to spur downtown business rehabilitation and housing rehabilitation. Locating the official city campground from Central Park to higher ground in Castle Park? Certainly, the city “should do” that, but that’s why it’s the most expensive part of a $500,000 grant the city is pursuing for all kinds of cool things in Castle Park, instead of just finding the money in the budget to make it happen now.

    Things the city “Could Do” include incentives for downtown housing rehab. With residential housing being a big part of the recommendations the Downtown Redevelopment Task Group came up with, it’s no wonder this is something that “could be” done. That’s directly tied to another “could do” item: Building a downtown apartment/condominium complex. But can you say expensive? Yikes. Many partners in the public and private sector would have to take a financial leap of faith in order to make that happen.

    The last item on the “Could Do” list is improvements to the city’s primary entrances. This sounds like an “aesthetic” initiative, which almost on principle alone pushes it to the bottom of the priority list, especially when money is tight. We’ll probably just have to keep leaning on the Chamber of Commerce and all of the invigorated people who seem more dedicated than ever to beautifying this community.