Think about it. The city council approved three years of City funding, totaling $120,000, but most of that was earmarked for the facilitator’s salary. So where would money for downtown projects deemed worthy by the DCDP leadership come from?

    Deep into last week’s discussion between Crookston City Council members, Mayor Wayne Melbye and Downtown Crookston Development Partnership leaders about how the DCDP and City can best work together in the future for mutual benefit, At Large Council Member Bobby Baird brought up an interesting point.

    Before the revamped DCDP board decided to jettison its City-funded, paid facilitator earlier this year in favor of essentially leading itself and pursuing projects that improve downtown, Baird wondered, where was the money for those projects going to come from?

    It’s an important question, which, after last week’s discussion, practically answers itself. And when it comes to the City and DCDP collaborating for downtown’s benefit, that’s a positive development.

    Think about it. The city council approved three years of City funding, totaling $120,000, but most of that was earmarked for the facilitator’s salary. So where would money for downtown projects deemed worthy by the DCDP leadership come from?

    That’s where a bunch of easier-to-say-but-much-harder-to-do talk comes in. The DCDP facilitator was supposed to pursue grants, leverage funding, form collaborations and partnerships and cultivate relationships and build synergies and all of sorts of other things that you might hear at a corporate training seminar or leadership/motivation retreat, or read in an overly ambitious job description. But ask anyone who’s tasked with spending much of their work time looking for funding and partners - especially when the future of their employment depends largely on the dollars they’re able to scrounge up - and they’ll tell you it’s exceedingly difficult and stressful work.

    The direction going forward that seemed to emerge from last week’s discussion is much cleaner and streamlined. If this ends up being the chosen path, this dedicated, talented and motivated crew of downtown proponents will continue doing what they do, and when they have rallied stakeholders and/or partners behind certain projects, they’ll come to the city council with requests for funding.

    The council, if the projects are deemed worthy, would be wise to greenlight the DCDP’s identified projects in the form of approved funding, because there is City money available to be spent. City officials and council members can speak with a hint of derision all they want about the local media reporting that the City has potentially millions of dollars to invest in various initiatives and that fact now being “out there” in the public as a result of the local media’s efforts, but the fact is that in multiple budget discussions earlier this year, council members and City officials spoke openly about having up to $4 million to spend on worthy projects that benefit the community.

    The DCDP is doing the City and council a big favor by taking on this monumental task. They’ve made a wise decision to forge ahead without a paid leader, but let us not forget that the DCDP is now a 100 percent volunteer effort. In the absence of funding the salary of a DCDP facilitator, the least the council could do is seriously consider funding worthy projects brought forth by the DCDP Board members who are putting in all this time and effort, free of charge.