The Free Press, Mankato, MN


February 21, 2014

Our View: Neighborly attitude builds regional strength

Why it matters: The Mankato City Council's recent comments on being wary of effects its decisions have on its neighbors can only lead to greater economic strength in a cooperative attitude.

In the field of power and influence in Minnesota, the Iron Range is envied by many. The cooperation and reliance of cities and counties looking out for the regional common good has helped this area build political influence and economic growth.

It’s no surprise when areas work collectively rather than focus on their individual parochial interests that better things can be realized.

So it was pleasant to see such an attitude recently from the Mankato City Council in contemplating what effect some of its decisions might have on its neighbor cities.

In the process of forming its master plan, a discussion emerged about building new facilities, especially a water park. Councilman Jack Considine piped up with “A water park? There’s a great one in Waseca ... Leadership doesn’t always mean grabbing everything.”

While the city park plan doesn’t call for adding a water park or indoor pool to Mankato’s list of municipal amenities, it does note that there has been public demand for such facilities and lays out potential costs of about $4.5 million to $10.4 million.

Councilwoman Karen Foreman said she’s worried about how another competitor might affect the viability of the Waseca park. Later in the discussion, Considine mentioned that the Lake Crystal Recreation Center could handle more users from Mankato if only there was a convenient way to get there.

“Not everything has to be in Mankato,” he said. “You spread the wealth out a little bit but you also spread the risk out.”

Representatives from both Waseca and Lake Crystal, when asked for their reaction to these comments, said they are gratified by the neighborly comments coming from Mankato.

This attitude is in line with the work being done by Greater Mankato Growth to develop a strong region rather than looking out for the benefit of the city itself. It created the Regional Economic Development Alliance (REDA) made up of Blue Earth and Nicollet counties and the communities immediately adjacent.

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