Editorial: Find middle ground on Harmony ParkPublished 8:53am Wednesday, June 26, 2013
It would seem unnecessary for Freeborn County to take measures that would lead to Harmony Park shutting down. After all, venues for musical concerts are a tourism attraction that most communities desire. They bring out-of-town dollars to Albert Lea, Clarks Grove and Geneva. Just ask servers at local restaurants. Ask hoteliers. Ask managers at convenience stores.
At the same time, the frequent arrests for illegal drug use at the venue concern many locals. The drug use could attract unwanted criminal elements to our safe, rural communities. It’s a legitimate concern.
Moreover, that crime there forces local law enforcement to spend valuable hours patrolling that place while there are other problems in the county that need their attention and supervision.
So there must be a compromise that can be reached for the camping-near-a-stage concert venue. It is a popular spot for weddings, fundraisers and reunions, not just concerts. It has value. Clearly, there needs to be increased security, and if the concert promoters cannot provide it, as they should, then the venue owner will need to make sure security happens. The same goes for medical staffing.
This can be accomplished through altering the conditional-use permit. Revoking it would be an overreaction to a solvable problem.
We urge safety as the top priority. We want the concert venue, but it needs cleaning up. Get rid of the unwanted drug-doers who spoil the outdoors fun for everyone else.