Editorial: Farmland must give Albert Lea an answer

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 6, 2001

From staff reports

First it was Oct.

Thursday, December 06, 2001

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First it was Oct. 1. Then it was &uot;early October.&uot; Then it was &uot;maybe next week&uot; (that was a month ago).

The fire at Farmland was five months ago. Shortly afterward, we were told the company planned to rebuild – somewhere. In late September and early October, the city put together its land-swap package to entice the company back. All signs pointed to a good chance for Albert Lea to land a new plant.

But most of October and November brought nothing but public silence from Farmland. It’s now December, and more than a few people are getting impatient.

It’s understandable that the company has many things to consider before deciding, and must get its insurance in order. But it’s also reasonable to expect that the company be more up-front with the citizens of Albert Lea about what’s going on, and that the company respond to the city’s offer in a timely fashion. Why the delay? When can we expect an answer? Whether the company builds here or not, Albert Lea needs to be able to move forward.

Hundreds of workers are still waiting; they will lose their unemployment benefits this winter. The city has arranged to purchase land for a new Farmland site and is waiting for an answer. The old, burned-out plant sits frozen in time, a huge eyesore that must be dealt with.

There needs to be some movement on this situation. Either Farmland rebuilds or it does not – either way, the demolition of the old plant can start and the industrial park now reserved for Farmland can move forward. Both sites are useless to the city in their current state, and time is of the essence.