SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENDUM LETTERS (Dog Track purchase)
Letter: Vote to buy dog track
It’s been a great experience being involved in the Vote Yes effort in favor of the purchase of St. Croix Meadows dog track. I’ve been introduced to new friends on the Vote Yes committee; folks who are retired with grown kids well out of the public school system, moms of youngsters not yet in the system, dads of school-aged kids, Republicans, Democrats, Independents — we’ve all been united on the Vote Yes committee by what this newspaper’s editorial staff last week cited as “a golden opportunity” and “a no-brainer” — the purchase of St. Croix Meadows dog track, for $8.25 million, for a secondary school site. The only way this “no brainer, golden opportunity” will become reality for Hudson is if everyone who cares about the kind of community they and their children are a part of votes yes on April 3.
Ellen Montgomery, Hudson
Letter: Purchase dog track site
The voters who live within the boundaries of the Hudson School District have an important decision to make when they cast their votes on Tuesday, April 3. Each of us has to decide how to vote on the Referendum to purchase the St. Croix Meadows site (commonly referred to as “the dog track”). This is not an easy decision as there are many issues involved regarding the acquisition of this property. Some of these issues revolve around the cost of the purchase, and the timing of the purchase. Other issues are related to the future growth of our area and the number of children that will be living in the District. Some of the answers to the questions brought up by these issues are clearer than others. Our country has been hard-hit by an economic slow-down which started in late 2007. There are now positive signs that the economy is on the rebound and will likely continue to grow. People are buying and building houses again. St. Croix County is still the fastest growing county in the State of Wisconsin and is part of the 14th largest Metro area in the U.S. I see this decision as a decision about the future of this area, of this school district and the future education of our children, our grandchildren and their children to be. Hudson would still be a tiny village on a riverbank if the people of the late 1800s and early 1900s hadn’t had a vision of the future. This country is always at its best when it looks into the future and does not dwell on looking backwards. It is with this view and faith and confidence in the future that I believe that we must look forward towards progress and the future for our kids. We need to have belief and trust in the people that we elect to the School Board and we need to be supportive of their actions and help to guide them in their decisions. There will be many opportunities to help plan for the future of the St. Croix Meadows site. I am going to vote to acquire this land and structures to get the plan for the future underway. I urge others to look towards the future also.
Jim Kubiak, Hudson
Letter: Vote ‘yes’ on track site
On April 3 our community has a very important choice to make that will shape the educational landscape in Hudson for decades to come — we have an opportunity to purchase the dog track to build a much needed community centerpiece (a new secondary school/high school). I know that emotions run high in these elections because as in any community there are varying viewpoints on how to resolve the issue. I was part of the 2004 non-partisan task force of 34 devoted citizens that spent 18 months and countless hours working through the same non-build alternatives that are being bantered about today. All I can say is that those alternatives will not work because every one of them was discussed at length and were determined to be unfeasible. If this referendum does not pass, these alternatives will need to be explored. I don’t think any of us wants to see year round school or multi-track days in our district because they significantly change the family dynamic making it difficult to maintain normalcy for our children. Our school-age children deserve a better educational environment.
The majority of the community sees the need to build because they recognize the fact that we have overcrowded classrooms and buildings. Any reasonable citizen would also say that if we are going to build, let’s do it right and move on. The UU property is not the right choice because it is too small to build a reasonably sized building that will serve the current and future needs of our growing student population. We must remember that this property has no existing infrastructure, which will cost millions to put in place and once that is completed we more than likely will have spent close to the $8.25MM needed to purchase the dog track. I guarantee you that once the building is built we will regret building on such a small parcel of land because we will continue to see class sizes increase with limited expansion options. Then what will we do?
Clearly the best option is the Dog Track because it is at the right price and has the infrastructure already in place. As you go to the polls, please remember that you are voting for the future of our children. Please join me and vote yes on April 3.
Paul Moen, North Hudson
Chair of the Vote Yes Campaign
Letter: Supports land buy
We moved to Hudson from the Twin Cities eight years ago, drawn in large part by Hudson’s great schools. We now have two children at North Hudson Elementary, where our experience has far exceeded our expectations. However, we are familiar with the space challenges facing our district, and are concerned about what this will mean for our children — and for all of our district’s current elementary school students — when they reach middle and high school.
We know that our district’s enrollment has increased 28 percent since 2000, and that our kindergarten enrollment has increased 55 percent. Our middle school is not only the largest in the state, but also 169 students over capacity, eroding the “house” concept that previously supported optimal learning and growth during those critical years of development.
Even the more conservative growth projections for the district indicate that our high school will have more than 1,900 students by the time my third-grader reaches ninth grade — and this is a school with classrooms and common spaces already bursting at the seams with just over 1,600 students.
I urge all who are committed to providing an optimal experience for our children to vote “yes” for the proposed purchase of the dog track property.
I understand the unease about purchasing the property without a concrete plan for the building project that will follow. But sometimes, when there is something we believe in, and we know a change is needed, we need to be willing to take some risk. In this case, I know we all believe in the importance of our local schools, and I believe that all who review the demographic trends and are familiar with the existing facilities will agree that a change is needed.
We need to take advantage of the opportunity to purchase the dog track now. I am confident that once we have finalized the purchase there will be ample opportunity for all who are interested to be involved with the process to determine what will be built and how it will be financed.
Please join me in voting “yes” on April 3.
Heather Logelin, North Hudson
Letter: Should buy track
The Hudson community continues to grow. There is no doubt about that.
In 2004, a School Facilities Task Force saw school enrollment projections that predicted the overcrowding we have now. At the time, the very same people who are saying the projections are wrong now were saying the projections were wrong then. The letters are virtually the same. It’s the letters that are wrong, not the projections.
For the record, the projections for the next 10 years actually are flawed now because they don’t factor a new major issue: The new Stillwater bridge. While the St. Joseph Township/Houlton area is currently a rural haven, it is not a reach to say that the completion of the bridge will bring unprecedented housing development to the area.
Who will live there? Families with school-age children. That’s who commutes. How many? Can’t be sure.
Best qualitative estimate: Lots and lots.
How many referendums to build marginal, short-term fixes are in our future? Lots.
That’s not efficient or wise. That’s not planning. That’s not close to trying to have a vision.
That’s just buying frustration year after year, and it buys buildings that are make-shift messes like our current high school.
There’s an opportunity right now that sets a foundation for a better, more forward thinking future.
Voting yes for the purchase of the dog track property for a secondary school will both solve an immediate need to relieve current crowding and have a site expandable to meet a future of growth that now includes an unknown easily anticipated huge growth on the north end of the district.
Be smart and think ahead. Vote yes on April 3.
Dan Bushman, Hudson
Letter: Make ‘good’ school choice
There are a few times in a person’s life when they are presented with “watershed” moments. These decisions and actions define them forever. Many of us have experienced these moments: choosing a career, starting a family, moving to a community that values, supports and balances both. We are presented with such an opportunity on April 3. Voting yes will be a community “watershed” moment; one that will help define the future of Hudson, not only for you and your families, but for all the families and businesses after you that believe they are moving into, not out of, a well-respected, forward thinking city.
For the past months, we have been presented with excellent data showing why this purchase is right. I don’t need to reiterate those points here. To me it comes down to 1) good people make good choices. 2) good communities make good choices. Find yourself making a good choice not only for your community, but for family and yourself. Vote yes April 3.
Paul Stein, Hudson
Letter: Vote ‘yes’ on dog track
We support the referendum to purchase the dog track land for an additional school within the Hudson District. We believe supporting the referendum is the responsible thing to do for our children and the future children of Hudson.
Brenda worked at the Hudson Middle School for six years. During this time she experienced first-hand the exceptional service the district provides to its students by recruiting and retaining top-notch staff, exceptional facilities, and teacher to student ratios that facilitate learning. We do not want to see the Hudson School District change and lose any of these important assets.
Right Land: The ability of this parcel of land to meet the long-term needs of our community given its size is paramount. The city sewer/water/lift station/road access/etc. are all in place already — which means less cost in the long run when the school is built.
Right Time: Our school district is one of the most fiscally conservative districts in the state, ranking second to last in spending per student. I trust the advisors within the district and outside the district which have spent years helping to determine if this is the best option for our dollars and if now is the time to spend the money. It is.
Right Outcomes: While maintaining this low cost per student ratio, Hudson students consistently rank high in academic achievement. We want to provide students and teachers with the resources and space they need to continue to achieve these high outcomes.
Please make voting “yes” on April 3 a priority. Your vote will be significant in keeping Hudson a great place to raise a family.
Rich, Brenda, Ty, Allie and Brady Larsen, Hudson
Letter: Vote ‘yes’ for track
I agree with your editorial last week (March 22, 2012) supporting the purchase of the dog track for a new public school. I especially liked the tone of the article and your ability and willingness to remind us of the long view when it comes to educating our children.
What we do know is that Hudson is a great place to live and raise and educate all children. As you pointed out, the opportunity to buy this site came about by a series of events that not many could have predicted. The residents of the Hudson School District indeed are being given a rare opportunity to advance local public education for years to come.
I will be voting yes on April 3 to approve the purchase of the St. Croix Meadows dog track and I encourage others to do so as well.
Peg Gagnon, Town of Hudson
Letter: Vote yes for future
The HSO was correct in recognizing the “golden opportunity” the purchase of St. Croix Meadows represents for the voters and taxpayers of the Hudson School District. First, it is a good value and represents a better location for a future secondary school than either the current location or the UU property. Secondly, it provides HSD taxpayers more flexibility in options for meeting secondary school space needs compared to our current options. Third, the need for more secondary school space is only going to get stronger in the future. The recent passage of legislation that will allow the Stillwater bridge to finally be built makes this an even more compelling argument for a “yes” vote. The projections for HSD enrollment growth were provided before the green light was given for building the bridge. Once the bridge is built in 2014, the HSD population and enrollment is going to increase even further, faster.
The question before the voters on April 3 is whether we are going to give future residents and taxpayers the most flexibility to decide how our secondary school space needs will be met for both the short and long-term. Much time and effort has already been expended by concerned citizens and leaders. The proposed purchase provides the opportunity to follow thru on the well-researched recommendations of the previous Space and Facilities task force.
Finally, the purchase follows the tradition of HSD leaders making sound fiscal choices. Yes, this purchase will take currently vacant property off the tax rolls; however, much of that tax base will be recouped when the District sells the UU property for residential development and sells the current administration building. To simply say “no” and limit our option to remodeling already insufficient space, would be a short-sighted, “penny-wise-pound-foolish” approach. Let’s put future taxpayers in a position of being able to say in 2062 or 2072: “We’re glad that the HSD leaders and voters had the foresight to make that purchase in 2012.” Please join us in voting “Yes” on April 3.
Jamie and Jean Johnson, Hudson
Letter: Likes current HHS site
Another way of looking at expanding the classroom space at the Hudson High School might be to consider building, e.g., a Music and Art, and/or a Science and Technology, and/or a Language and Communications Bldg. right on the existing campus. Consider how many times the White House in Washington, D. C., has been tastefully added on to as our nation has grown.
In my humble opinion, the current location of the Hudson High School is central and ideal. The St. Croix Meadows location (close to the hospital) will twice a day create great bottlenecks of traffic. However, building another bridge over I-94 and two light rails to “off-campus parking” might remedy that problem.
It’s fun to be creative, practical, and thrifty. It’s fun to design, rethink (plan), and renovate. Teaching our youth to be joyfully content and innovative might be more important than to burden this community with a $65 million debt for a new school.
“New” and “expensive” might not always equate with “excellence.”
Medora Koehler, Hudson
Letter: Vote ‘yes’ for track
It’s been nearly 30 years since I moved away from Hudson. I was five. When my family left, the current high school was on the edge of town, surrounded on three sides by cornfields. There were two grocery stores in town and they weren’t County Market or Family Fresh. About the only thing south of I-94 was Fleet Farm and you could count the number of fast-food restaurants in the area on one hand.
Fast-forward to 2005, the year that my husband and I relocated back to the upper Midwest. Driving down Vine Street I had to re-orient myself. There were entire neighborhoods, businesses and YMCA where nothing had been. Hudson had grown into a marvelous outer-ring suburb with much of the small-town charm that is lacking in other area suburban communities. We fell in love.
“The elementary schools are great,” we heard, “but the middle school and high school are getting crowded.” That was seven years ago. The same high school that served the small, rural Hudson of my youth is now struggling to support the weight of our growing community.
It is time to accept the reality of our circumstances and look to the future. With a new bridge linking us to the metro area, it won’t be long before others discover Hudson’s charm and realize the commute is no worse than one from the south metro.
I urge all Hudsonites to vote yes to purchase the dog track. We can buy it now at an incredibly low price, at a good interest rate, or we can wait until our schools are vastly overcrowded and we have our backs up against the wall. We’ll pay a lot more and probably get a lot less for our money. Not to mention, we will suffer through all the overcrowding pains in the interim. Our children and teachers will pay the price with difficult education circumstances. And, if we are slow to find a solution, our property values will diminish.
Growth is here and it is here to stay. Vote YES Hudson the children and Hudson’s citizens of the next 30 years are counting on you.
Sarah Cothran, Hudson
Letter: Invest in our children
I have lived in St. Croix County all my life. I have been a resident of Hudson for nearly 25 years. I was here when this community was torn apart by the decision to move forward with constructing a race track. St. Croix Meadows was touted as the “premier racetrack in the country” by then Gov. Tommy Thompson and many others.
In his speech on opening day of the track, Gov. Thompson spoke of the jobs and economic benefit St. Croix Meadows would bring to Hudson and the entire St. Croix Valley area. In his words, “…trigger(ing) substantial economic activity for the City of Hudson, for St. Croix County, and for the state.” Obviously none of those high hopes came to fruition and the community has been left with a decaying building that only generates $93,000 in taxes a year.
Some in the community have said the City of Hudson stands to lose millions of dollars if St. Croix Meadows becomes a school. I can’t help but think that these are the same high hopes Gov. Thompson spoke of back in 1991. Look around this community, there are a lot of commercial properties available south of I-94 and elsewhere. Rather than invest in speculation about what commercial property St. Croix Meadows could become (which by the way would certainly come with some nice tax breaks – remember “Wisconsin is Open for Business”), I choose to invest in what has real value — our kids. Turning St. Croix Meadows into a school is a no-brainer. Join me and all the other folks in this community who understand Raider pride – Vote yes April 3.
William Ahlin, Town of Troy
Letter: Vote for land purchase
I’d like to encourage voters next week to vote yes for the planned purchase of the dog track property as a site for a new school facility. It is a natural location with most of the infrastructure in place around it to support a school facility.
There are many things to consider when making a decision on whether to support this referendum and of utmost importance is giving our community a facility that can continue to move it forward. Moving forward in terms of updated facilities to support the new technologies available in classrooms today, moving forward in terms of space to foster a good learning environment, and moving forward with space to support the growing number of extra-curricular activities that allow our students to express themselves outside of the classroom. These activities allow our children to learn life lessons in teamwork, setting and achieving goals, and performing (whether musically, theatrically, or athletically) in the public eye.
My experience over the last decade has put me in many athletic facilities across Wisconsin and Minnesota. I can say without any doubt that Hudson’s athletic facilities are behind the times both in terms of indoor and outdoor space. It would also be nice to have all facilities in one place, rather than scattered around town. We need better training facilities and workout space.
All of these spaces would also greatly benefit the community as all high school feeder programs desperately need the space to properly train young athletes, and our Community Ed programs for adults are also fighting for space.
It’s time to move Hudson forward and we have the opportunity to acquire a piece of property, centrally located with existing infrastructure, to do so.
Again, please vote yes!
Eric Tvedt, Hudson