DCDP says stronger committee structure spurs the decision; next up is deciding if they want to hire a new facilitator, and determining if they’ll be required to do so

    The Downtown Crookston Development Partnership on Thursday parted ways with facilitator Dillon Fenno, five months after he was hired to fill the part-time position. Acting DCDP board chair Tom Skjei told the Times Friday that as their committees have strengthened, they found their requirements for a contracted position “have changed” as well.

    “We will identify our gaps for DCDP as we move forward,” Skjei explained in a statement submitted by the DCDP after the Times sought comment on Thursday’s decision to let Fenno go. “Dillon is still under contract for 30 days and will continue to work with the group on current projects during this time,” Skjei added.

    “We are excited to report on the formation of these working committees within its board structure,” he continued. “Based on the national Main Street model, the committees include Economic Vitality, Design, Promotion and Organization. The Economic Vitality committee is networking with the City of Crookston on a Renaissance Zone and business incentives to promote expansion in downtown Crookston.

    “And the Design committee has resulted in visible community art in downtown Crookston,” Skjei concluded.

    Funding for the DCDP part-time facilitator position was approved by the Crookston City Council in late 2016 after much debate. The council eventually agreed to provide $120,000 over three years to fund the position and cover various DCDP expenses, with the idea that once the three years was up the DCDP and its facilitator position would be self-sustaining. In one of his updates to the council several weeks after being hired, however, Fenno left over the possibility that some level of City funding beyond the three years would be necessary if Crookston’s downtown was ever to achieve official “Main Street City U.S.A.” designation. That piece of information was not greeted with open arms by a couple council members.

    Fenno, who owns and operates the Synergy Nutrition Hub in downtown Crookston, saw his profile in Crookston increase dramatically in early 2017, as the city council endured quite a lengthy saga in trying to fill the mayor’s seat after Gary Willhite resigned in the wake of his election to the Polk County Board of Commissioners. Fenno was among a small group of applicants for the mayoral position, and he did so well in his interview with the selection committee that for a few minutes at the committee’s meeting to pick a mayor it seemed like Fenno was going to be the choice. Eventually, though, Wayne Melbye was picked after a debate that centered on choosing him, Fenno, or Frank Lindgren.

    It wasn’t long after the mayoral selection process that Fenno applied for the DCDP facilitator position and was hired.

    The next big decision to be made might not necessarily involve hiring a new facilitator to lead the DCDP, but whether the DCDP wants to hire a facilitator at all. There’s been a lot of turnover on the DCDP board/membership, and very few if any of the board members remain today from when Fenno was hired. With City money approved under the auspices of most of the money going toward the facilitator’s salary, it’s likely that the council will want to weigh in on that debate.