Ward 4 survey respondents weigh in on lots of things

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    Ward 4 City Council member Don Cavalier, a committee of residents who live in his ward and the Downtown Crookston Development Partnership hosted a listening session at Trinity Lutheran Church last week to go over results from the 2020 Ward 4 Business Survey, and discuss the recent Community Survey conducted by the City of Crookston.

    The city is potentially seeking to dissolve the Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority and create a Community Development department, and participants weighed in.

    Almost two dozen people attended the session and voiced concerns on numerous topics. In addition, results from the 2020 Ward 4 Business Survey’s open forum feedback section were partly discussed by the committee which included comments about city administration, the City Council, and CHEDA.

    Comments on city administration (recorded before current City Administrator Amy Finch was hired) from the 2020 Ward 4 Business Survey included, but were not limited to:

    • “Angel done excellent job stepping in as City Administrator”

    • “Needs leadership and professional training”

    • “Speed limit not being enforced in Crookston. Even Crookston Police drive too fast.”

    • “Retail will not survive in these loud conditions”

    • “Promoting an attractive central downtown community hub is essential for downtown moral, community growth. Health competition promote smart business planning.”

    • “Staff appears very competent, helpful, hard-working. Shannon Stassen was very helpful when he had questions; miss his honesty and presence. From the City Council Mtg. Notes, and the Mayor were was clearly targeted by CHEDA and some member of the City Council, as well as others.”

    • “Need to develop more parking spaces. Extend and enforce yellow ‘no parking’ specifically at intersections. You cannot see traffic when pulling out from side streets. Level sidewalks to make walking easier. Better snow/ice removal in a lot of areas.”

    • “Better since last administrator left”

    • “Most concerned with citizens losing central park. Love to see community support for the theatre downtown.”

    • “Novel Cup block looks tough - fix up downtown buildings (Broadway). Why does Crookston keep “Pushing Business” out of Downtown and Crookston.”

    Comments on city council from the 2020 Ward 4 Business Survey included, but were not limited to:

    • “Appears has meeting before meeting, comes with own agenda.”

    • “Positive reinforcement for current and potential citizens”

    • “Less bad press more positive results”

    • “The Council has the best interest in the city, however, it seems like getting things done and agreeing on issues especially housing and economic development.”

    • “Has a bad reputation of not getting along, no vision, and needs new members to move forward.”

    • “Fine. A bit of an old boys club, needs some females, but that up to the voters. I hope they can seek out diverse opinions and consider all needs when making decisions. Especially for downtown.”

    • “Improve Objectivity, reduce politics and tensions. Need training in use of {Parliamentary Procedures this might help the council meetings run more smoothly, increase courtesy and civility. Each council member needs to act as a Team Member, not an individual member! Help rebuild residents pride in Crookston and leaders! Thanks to Dale for a Good Start! Council members need to seek residents input and voicing it!”

    • “3 to 4 members of the city council are ‘puppets for CHEDA Director.’ It is evident they work lock-step with CHEDA and it’s director. Until these individual are gone, the City Council will continue to be a toxic environment.”

    • “Avoid constant conflict, name calling, and set aside personal opinions/friendships and think and do what is best for Crookston.”

    • “Don’t need 3 separate committees i.e. Chamber, Downtown Development, and CVB can all be on Committee.”

    Comments on CHEDA from the 2020 Ward 4 Business Survey included, but were not limited to:

    • “Directive for more businesses (lg and sm)”

    • “Get rid of CHEDA”

    • “Who does CHEDA answer to? What does CHEDA have to do with HUD?”

    • “We have high turnover in City Administration, Mayor’s Office and Chamber of Commerce positions due to a toxic relationship with CHEDA. The CHEDA Board are either corrupt, incompetent or not well informed to the dishonesty of the CHEDA Director.”

    • “I could write a book about this, and will not operate in Crookston because of CHEDA and it’s Director, they are an unmitigated failure! Downtown was a good place to have a business in the past for the last 20 years!”

    • “CHEDA should be separated with Housing being part of the City and Economic Development a separate entity. This would speed up the timeline of moving forward so things can happen faster.”

    • “The Chaos created in the Council Chambers is almost always attributed to the meddling by the CHEDA director and the creation of False narratives and suspicions toward city staff. The surrogates that make these insinuations always some sort of tie to CHEDA.”

    • “The APG Development Project - The CHEDA Director stated that Crookston has somehow dropped the ball and that the city was not customer friendly. He was the one that dropped the ball, not the city. This project failure needs to be fully investigated as CHEDA was not fully engaged in this APG project and its failure falls to the CHEDA Director.”

    • “Avoid constant conflict and project complete transparency in all business transactions. CHEDA is an independent Board from the City.”

    • “Need to spend more dollars on downtown, not discourage businesses to locate downtown. Need more downtown businesses not closures. We need to be more like TRF and rebuild downtown.”

Participants in the Ward 4/DCDP listening session
A closer look at participants