Crookston “Town Square” Land Purchase    

    A number of years ago the Crookston City Council voted to build a Structure near the old Crookston High School site on what we now call the “Town Square.“ A Town Square is a fairly new concept to bring more traffic to downtowns and encourage visitors to shop local Crookston business and also serve as a gathering place for the Community.  As I recall, as a member of the Council at that time, that structure had a cost of slightly over $100,000.  I voted against this plan--mainly because this structure was going to be built on land the City did not own!  (I did not then and do not now have $100,000 dollars, but I certainly would never personally build a structure on property I did not own)  Under this past agreement, the City would agree to pay a yearly rental fee and be responsible for the property lawn upkeep. (Since 2012 the City has paid $4,851.33 rental fee)  In defense, some council members argued, we could always move this structure if need be---perhaps not that easy.

    It appears there is an interest in the owner of this property to sell that space and perhaps another building on that site and an interest on behalf of some Council Members to purchase this property.  My question is now, years later what will that the cost be?  Over $100,000 to purchase this property??—My assumption is that the owner has found very little interest in anyone else purchasing this property and has only one interested buyer---the owners of the structure that built on their property—the Taxpaying Citizens of Crookston! I urge the Council Members to be frugal, this land purchase value is considerably less than $100,000.  
    I do understand the City and Chamber are looking at providing more events each year at the “Town Square”, I do value the Farmers Market with excellent fresh vegetables, (some question if this is the best traffic/location for them), however if  the Town Square brings more people downtown during business hours and makes businesses more profitable- GREAT!! I just want to insure the City pays a reasonable price --get an appraisal, if they choose to consider a purchase. If not negotiate or maintain the current rental arrangements.

    Believe me…..I would recommend that you contact your Council Members with your thoughts on this before decisions and agreements are made, it is our money-Crookston Citizens!

Gary Willhite, past council member/mayor