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Looking ahead, not at the past

By Staff | Oct 27, 2013

It’s true. There is no denying it.

As a letter to the editor in last week’s Faribault County Register so bluntly pointed out, Blue Earth’s downtown Main Street just isn’t what it use to be.

Once upon a time there were dozens of thriving businesses, filling every single building in a four block span. Clothing stores, department stores, shoe stores, car dealers, variety stores, pharmacies and hardware stores filled every nook and cranny.

Pictures of the downtown area from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s are amazing.

But, there was also a farm family on every quarter section, 4,000 people living in the town, gas was only 25 cents a gallon and there were no computers or Internet.

It was called ‘the good old days.’

Those days are gone. One can sit and lament that fact, or one can face reality and try and deal with the way things are today.

The letter writer brings up several other points, which beg to be addressed.

One is the tearing down of old, empty buildings.

Again, it’s true. An awful lot of Blue Earth’s downtown buildings are no longer there. They have been demolished. Some are now parks or empty lots. That is a topic that has been debated locally over the years.

On the one hand, it is a real shame these buildings have been razed. On the other hand, having a downtown area filled with empty, decaying buildings that need more fixing than anyone is willing to do, isn’t an asset.

It only makes the downtown less attractive.

Case in point is the Avalon Center, which the letter writer uses as an example.

It was, indeed, a controversial move for the city to buy it and tear it down. But, it is a prime example of what happens when a structure is abandoned and not maintained. It goes downhill fast. Real fast.

In the letter there is a question about city planning.

The reality is, part of the city planning is to tear down these unsightly and hazardous structures. And the Blue Earth City Council has stepped up and done just that.

They have also taken some steps to help new and existing businesses.

Through their Blue Earth Economic Development Authority (EDA), they have granted loans to businesses for all sorts of projects. And, now they are designating a significant amount of money for a grant/loan program that will help businesses do necessary costly repairs to their buildings.

That’s a positive step.

The city is also doing some planning as to what can be done to improve the look of downtown when two blocks of Main Street are reconstructed by the county in 2015.

That, too, is city planning.

A line in the letter to the editor asks, ‘where is the industry?’

Good heavens, did the writer not go take a look at the West Industrial Park and all of the industries located there? Has she heard the city is planning another industrial park on the north side of I-90, because this one is full to capacity?

If she was here this past Saturday she could have toured a couple of them and seen what kind of an impact they have on the town. It was all a part of Manufacturing Week, and was a celebration of what we do have here in Faribault County .

Again, we are blessed to have a solid core of industries which employ hundreds of people.

Recently Blue Earth has also been blessed with a couple of entrepreneurs who have moved to town, purchased a downtown building and renovated it. Jim Pollard did it with the Bartley building and John Oswald is doing it to the Hallmark building.

Several other businesses, Gartzke’s Floral and Headlines Plus salon quickly come to mind, have recently decided to relocate to the downtown area.

We need more of that to happen.

Perhaps the letter writer would be interested in moving here from Houston, Texas, and starting a business in downtown Blue Earth. She would be welcomed with open arms.

One can sit around and remember how wonderful things were in the past and whine about how terrible things are now.

Or, you can forget about the past, celebrate and support what we do have now, and work hard, doing what one can, to make the city a better place in the future.

It’s up to you.