Letters to the editor

To the editor,

In a strange turn of events at a special council meeting July 27, 2020, “your voted by the public” council members voted 4-1 in favor of vacating the alley between 15th and 16th St. on the old TeePee property, to make way for a new Holiday Gas Station.

East Ward Councilor Leon Ditsch was the only member to oppose the proposal and speak up for the locally owned small businesses that will be affected/closing due to this vote for a corporate store.

There was a petition with 48 business owners opposed to the alley being vacated and only one business, Northern Border Investments which currently owns the property, in favor of the vacation. Northern Border is not developing the property, they only applied to have the alley vacated so they could sell it to Circle K, Holiday’s parent company.

Northern Border Investments told the council May 6, 2019, prior to the TeePee motel being demolished by the city that “they needed a clean site that they could develop and get back on the tax rolls.” As stated in the meeting by the Circle K rep – “We will not buy the property unless the alley is vacated.” We as tax payers paid for most of the demo when the TeePee Motel came down, now they are using local influence to get the alley vacated and will be flipping it for a nice profit – while some long standing local business will soon closing their doors.

Councilor (Chelsea) Nelson and Mayor (Harley) Droba asked the small crowd for comments, Jace Baldwin of NBI spoke in favor of the vacation and Matt Koerbitz spoke for several local small businesses opposing the vacation. As mentioned above, there were 48 business owners opposed and only one for.

Most all of the petitioned business owners stayed away from the council meeting due to COVID-19 and social distancing issues in the council chambers. Apparently, the 48 people needed to pack the chambers, because their voices were obviously not heard with the written petition. How do you end up on the wrong end of a vote when it was 48-1 against?

Here are the potential businesses soon to close in my estimation:

Little Freedom, Koerter’s Fuel, and Bootleggers. Holiday will be leaving the Leinum property on the corner of 11th Street and Highway 53 – leaving that corner empty. The Outdoorsman and The Jug will be crippled with the loss of traffic on their corner.

You have some major local donators that will be lost.

Visit the business above now – they might not be around for much longer.

Thank your council members when you see them – they didn’t support your locally owned businesses on this vote.

Call your local council members and voice your opinion – the 48 businesses owners opinions opposing the vacation didn’t count, maybe yours will?

One more thought – there is a difference between a local business and a locally owned business.

Signed, a locally owned business.

Mark Koerbitz

Koerter’s Fuel

International Falls, MN

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