Letter: Time to buy track
We cannot pass up the opportunity to purchase the dog track. For 43 cents a day, it’s more than a bargain. A family with a $250,000 house will pay only $22.50/year! $1.87 a month. Only once a month, skip the Starbucks, the movie rental, the tap beer, the iTunes purchase. The present schools are accommodating a 28 percent increase in students over the past 10 years. As a community in the outer ring of a large metropolitan area, the growth will continue — even if it slows, it will continue. I grew up in a comparable community 40 miles outside Milwaukee during the 70-80s and saw the community go from one to two and now three high schools in addition to a large parochial high school. It is inevitable.
Some argue that the board has not made a clear plan of what will be placed on the property. The board has been forced to place the referendum on the April 3rd election date. Owners of the dog track agreed to a purchase agreement that the sale is contingent on the April 3rd referendum. The community will decide on the right school. If we wait longer, someone else will buy the property. We do not need more empty strip malls. We need a new school.
Some discredit the board, citing the fact that the land on County UU is now unsuitable for a school. To clarify — this was a very wise investment initiated back in 1953, when the Hudson School Board purchased the initial 23 acres. Eleven years ago an additional 87 acres was purchased. Now, almost 60 years from the original purchase, the new school needs to accommodate 2,000-2,500 students and requires an onsite sewage treatment facility. The site can no longer accommodate this large of a school. It will however, bring the district a sizable amount of revenue when sold.
The need for a new school will not go away. We still have the opportunity to be proactive about moving forward for the educational environment in Hudson. Interest rates and labor costs are down now, but can’t stay that way forever. If we wait, we run the risk of spending much more later on a less than optimal sight. Ultimately it is the community who reaps the benefits of responsible, smart graduates who can become contributing members of society. Please vote yes.
Beth Hoppe-Stidham, Hudson
Letter: Vote ‘no’ on referendum
Letter writer John Windolff couldn’t be more accurate when he describes how the school board and Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten continue to manipulate information to create their desired results.
Last week’s report on current enrollment numbers was a prime example. Ms. Eggebraaten shrugged off the very low preliminary 2012 kindergarten number of 321 students as some type of anomaly. Had that number been much higher it would have been the lead story. Of course Meg Heaton of the Star-Observer was more than happy to accommodate with the headline — “School enrollment is up.” Adding a whopping 12 students or a .2 percent increase is up? How about flat?
Only having 321 students signed up for kindergarten should be enough to stop this referendum discussion completely. We have allowed this school board to construct space for 500 kids per grade at the elementary level and this will never be reached. Only through open enrollment will they even come close. So are we building schools to educate kids from Somerset and River Falls?
To make matters more interesting, district-wide elementary enrollment actually shrank last year from 2,546 to 2,528. Currently we have 435 children in the fifth grade. Even if this preliminary kindergarten number goes up by fall, we will still probably see another year of declining enrollment at the elementary level. Why aren’t our school board and superintendent mentioning this information?
Now they are proposing a new secondary school for a minimum of 2,000 students. Even using the district’s own manipulated capacity figures we are talking about creating a secondary school capacity of 4,805 or 685 students per grade. Couple that with 321 kids currently signed up for kindergarten, an elementary enrollment that has been flat for three years and we are going to create more space than we could ever possibly use.
When writing about the use of the county land for another secondary school, board member Mark Kaisersatt stated “only a fool would place another large secondary school at that location.” I beg to differ with Mr. Kaisersatt. In my opinion, only a fool would build another large secondary school at all. The idiocy of Mr. Kaisersatt and our entire school board is simply breathtaking.
Please vote no on April 3.
Curt Weese, Hudson
Letter: Looking for combination
If the dog track building is renovated as a multi-use facility for the entire community with retail space to support it, I would donate $5,000. I am not rich like the high-rollers who created and then deserted the building. However, I am willing to help create a facility that will encourage activities, businesses and school programs that will improve the health of everyone in our community.
Please join me in pledging to support a self-sustaining, multi-service, multi-function facility.
Thank God the citizens of Hudson recognized the evils of gambling. Thank goodness we have an opportunity to replace the taint of gambling with the healthy glow of a fun, family-focused community facility!
Jane E. Schmidley, North Hudson
Letter: Sell current land first
The campaign to purchase the St Croix Meadows dog track tries desperately to convince voters of the sweet deal available to us. It makes me wonder why there is not a lineup of private investors competing to acquire that property, since it is supposedly worth $16.8 million and the school has a deal to buy the property for just $8.25 million.
Investors cannot find properties at that discount anywhere. Another mailing today on the subject from the Hudson School District states that the dog track purchase is the first step in its long-range school solution. Well, I suggest the first step is for the school board and superintendent to sell the property on UU road that was acquired years ago for like purposes. Would be great if they can get twice the current market value.
Bob Carlson, Hudson
Letter: Bury dog track stigma
I am a dog lover. Many of you Hudsonites probably know my yellow lab “Mac” who has his head out the back of my pickup camper shell driving around town. While I love dogs, I am not a dog track lover. In fact, the ill-fated dog track facility has been a scourge on our town for far too long!
As a community sustainability facilitator around the region, I have learned the inherent values of healthy community, culture, arts and a good educational system. I’d portend the negative stigma of the dog track has haunted our community for far too long.
While most of the dog track purchase debate has focused on an appraisal valuation, we really need to consider the importance of creating positive community value/energy at this cornerstone property. I believe years of dog track debate, the weed-choked parking lot, and the opportunity costs to our city is in the millions of dollars of negative value.
Now we have a chance to change all of this into a positive community asset in the form of much needed educational facility. Hudsonites need to seize this opportunity with no looking back!
Stewart Erickson, Hudson
Letter: Questions track value
The front-page article regarding the so-called “market value” of the dog track property caused me to nearly laugh out loud. If it’s worth so much, why would the owners be so agreeable to sell at basically half price? Wasn’t there a previous article in this paper that suggested the real value was something around $5 million? The article did not mention who paid for the appraisal, but I can make an educated guess.
Here’s the bottom line — a property is worth only what someone is willing to pay, nothing more — nothing less. And for anyone to believe that the acquisition, modification, building erection and finishing this property into another school will result in a mere $18 per 200K in property taxes is possibly on some seriously potent drugs. More likely five to 10 times that cost when it‘s all said and done.
Last, show me a state law, ordinance, code, etc., that specifies a minimum of 100 acres is necessary for any school building. It’s preposterous. The first major school building in River Falls, for example, that my sister and I attended back in the ‘50s was three stories tall and occupied one city block — with the exercise (or recess) grounds occupying the second city block; total area was about five acres yet somehow teachers taught, students learned, and we all survived. And to think we actually had to use stairways! Oh, the rigors and hardships we endured!
Nowadays we’re all led to believe no school can possibly exist unless the grounds are large enough to safely land a 747 and the building is designed to Donald Trump standards. There’s a quick and easy way to find out the true value — have those who vote in favor of this outrageously expensive extravagance pay for it — and then watch how the purchase is suddenly found to be much less appealing.
Lee Christianson, Baldwin