Law enforcement wrong on venuePublished 9:50am Tuesday, June 25, 2013
After reading the recent article “Harmony Park in a hot seat” I was very concerned to hear about the number of assumptions made by the Albert Lea Tribune and the officials that were sought for comment. I have attended events at Harmony Park in Geneva on multiple occasions and have always found a welcoming, family-oriented environment with very few aggressive or violent attendants. The park has been in operation for over 16 years and has hosted events ranging from small weddings to large festivals and I have never heard of any riotous activities or concerns regarding “mass shooting incident(s)” as Sheriff Bob Kindler suggests.
I think it would be beneficial to stop relying on fear of “what if” scenarios and look to the facts. How many emergency responders have been called to the park for assaults or concerns regarding violent behavior in its 16 years of operation? How does Harmony Park compare to larger festival style venues in the state such as the campgrounds in Detroit Lakes or the Twin Cities? Can the costs to the county be mitigated by additional staff and private security at the camp grounds? Finally, what opportunities are we providing Jay Sullivan to address the concerns raised at the Memorial Day weekend event? He has already indicated he will be canceling or making changes to events that have recently put the park in jeopardy.
By asking these questions and others we can gain a clear understanding of the impacts of Harmony Park to our community rather than relying on the perceptions of social media and individuals who have never actually attended an event there. Harmony Park is an asset to Freeborn County as one of the few large music venues in the area. It brings in revenue not only through the taxes assessed to the campgrounds, but attendants are also spending money at our local grocery stores, gas stations and retail locations. Let’s come together as a community and focus on the facts before we pass judgment and restrict operation of one of our few local attractions.