Pieces are in place for a long lease relationship, or maybe even ownership at some point.

Even though the vote was unanimous last week when Crookston City Council members and Mayor Dave Genereux, at a Ways & Means Committee meeting, endorsed a fast-tracked construction timeline for the Downtown Square “pavilion” structure, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a person sitting around that city hall conference room table who wouldn’t very much prefer that the City of Crookston own the land instead of lease it.

    Of course it would be better for the city to own the lot. After all, who wants to build a $100,000 structure on land it only leases? Well, the city council and mayor do, apparently. And that’s not the end of the world.

    Why isn’t it? Because the owners of the property don’t seem like the type of people interested in sticking it to the city somewhere down the line. The relationship between the two is cordial, even if it’s become apparent in recent discussions that the owner isn’t all that interested in selling the lot to the city at this time. It’s also not the end of the world because there are eight years remaining on the initial 10-year lease the city signed. Eight years can and will certainly fly by, but eight years will probably also be a sufficient amount of time for the Crookston community to decide just how much it digs the idea of a Downtown Square. In eight years, it should be clear to just about everyone if the Downtown Square has been a success in Crookston, or not.

    Let’s assume it’s at least a moderate success. When the initial lease expires in around eight years, the language in the contract makes it relatively easy to extend it another decade, for a small increase in the lease payment, which is relatively minuscule. And at any time, if the owner says she wants to sell, the city has the right to match any offer made by any other interested buyers.

    But, some might say, isn’t the city backing itself into a corner by adding value to a piece of property that it doesn’t own? Won’t the city just have to pay significantly more later by constructing a cool looking building and adding other amenities that make the space more attractive and useful? Maybe. But, although it won’t be easy, city officials have said all along, if need be, it would be possible to relocate the building to another site.

    But that’s a problem for later. Right now, it’s a positive lease arrangement, a lease arrangement with many years left. Let’s just build the building, add some amenities, hold some events there, and have a little fun with it, before everyone starts stressing over things that may or may not happen several years down the road.