In the year 2000, the city of Grand Forks somewhat surreptitiously purchased land on 32nd Avenue South, west of I-29 for $1.25 million in hopes of luring Amazon to build a distribution center on the property. The lure cast failed to attract Amazon, and the land sat vacant for 15 years until it was finally purchased by a locally based utility for their expansion.
I reference this transaction as a cautionary reminder to the current City Council to re-evaluate their decision to further advance the prospect of investing $1 million in a company that has had publicity problems in the past and is currently involved with a lawsuit over valuation of property at one of their locations. A quick Internet search will lead one to several instances of alleged animal abuse.
Any government entity may become embroiled in controversy inadvertently if a single person associated with the entity makes a mistake. But if the city government of Grand Forks, as a whole, endorses and finances this questionable investment using public money, there will be few supporters of their decision if the history of the company repeats itself in Grand Forks.
I’ve read where additional vetting would have uncovered the allegations now being discussed during discussions about whether to approve this expenditure, and it likely would have. And I give kudos to our city staff and those who run for public office at local levels. A lot of their work goes unseen and unappreciated. This is especially true given the current climate of vitriolic divisiveness being the norm.
I believe the city would be well advised to terminate this venture and look elsewhere to spend $1 million to entice visitors to Grand Forks. There are many factors involved in people making decisions on where to spend their time and money. Negative publicity is likely not one of them.
Assuming these funds have discretionary use, I for one, would like to see this money distributed to the police department. Proactive public safety ranks as one of the top amenities any community can offer and promote to current, as well as prospective, citizens and visitors.
Steve Sulland, Grand Forks