EDITORIAL: City makes wise move
When St. Croix County officials began debating the possible sale of 500 acres of county-owned land in and near New Richmond, it would have been easy for city officials to go into panic mode.
Over the past few years, the city has had numerous preliminary discussions about the vacant county land and there were often ideas swirling about for the potential use of some of the property.
But the timeframe for deciding whether or not to participate in the proposed county's land auction was incredibly short and there appeared to be little interest on the part of St. Croix County to work out a mutually-beneficial deal for a chunk of the property. So the city backed away, ahead of Tuesday's vote by the St. Croix County Board on the sale of the land.
From New Richmond's perspective, it all worked out for the best in the end. The fast-approaching deadline for a decision forced the New Richmond City Council and Economic Development Commission to have some serious discussions in recent weeks. The deadline pressure turned out to be a good thing, as the community's economic development priorities actually came into better focus as a result.
As the land sale deadline neared, it became clear that the community's No. 1priority didn't lie on or near the county land. The priority is to the east of the New Richmond Regional Airport, where land is available to address the needs of new businesses and industries that need a place to build. One such business, Engineered Propulsion Systems, wants to be located near the airport and could be ready to build in the next year or so.
Extending city water and sewer service to that area in the next few years makes more sense than installing hundreds of thousands of dollars of infrastructure in an area where future prospects are less concrete. If the county decides to sell its land (and it's not clear if that would be their decision on Tuesday or not), the community will still have a say on what happens on that land. There was no reason to expend tax money to tie up some of that property when the city isn't sure what they'd want to do with it.
We concur with City Administrator Mike Darrow's statement Monday night at the City Council meeting.
"A knee-jerk decision a lot of times ends up being the wrong decision," he said.
Or, in other words, it's better to be safe than sorry. No action is better than taking action that you later regret.