Editorial: What gets a thumbs up or thumbs down this week?

Published 8:50 pm Friday, November 25, 2022

To the sale of the first property in the city of Albert Lea’s pilot project to a local business.

We are pleased to see the first property return back into the private market last week that was part of a pilot project set up by the city of Albert Lea.

City leaders decided earlier this year that instead of spending money to demolish all buildings it acquires through tax-forfeiture, they would use that money to make some structural repairs on the buildings that are viable for rehabilitation and then return those buildings to the private market for further updates.

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The city started off with three properties, and after paying to repair the roof, put in electrical service and make some other wall fixes to the first building on South Broadway Avenue, it sold to Big Dream Organics of Albert Lea last week. The business plans to make further upgrades and then open its retail business there next spring.

The owners of Big Dream Organics said the project would not have been viable for them without the investment the city made in the project. The city spent a little more than $49,000 on the repairs and closing costs. While the costs exceeded the $29,900 purchase price, the city spent less than it would have on demolition, saving money in the end.

While we know this will not be an option for all properties that end up in the city’s lap because of tax forfeiture, it will be a possibility for some, and we are excited to see what else this initiative cleans up.

Of the three initial properties in the project, the second one will also be sold soon, while the third ended up being too far past repair. The city is looking for someone to demolish that house and build something in its place.

To the organizations helping residents amidst rising food prices.

Thank you to the organizations and volunteers in the community who are lifting up residents who are struggling because or rising costs in the economy.

We are blessed with several opportunities where people can seek aid with food, including the Albert Lea Salvation Army, the Ecumenical Food Pantry at First Presbyterian Church, the Welcome Pantry through the United Way as well a other meal options through Salvation Army, Trinity Lutheran Church, St. Theodore Catholic Church and others in the surrounding area. Other efforts are also underway to help students in the community through the Food for Backpacks program and, most recently, a Tiger Trays program that seeks to fund lunches for all students in the district, in addition to those who receive free or reduced lunch otherwise. There are likely other programs, too.

Thanks to your efforts, many in the community are feeling more secure in providing food for their families.

We know that meeting these needs does not come without cost, so we encourage those who are able to in turn support these organizations that are also facing rising costs to provide the services they do.

They need our help, too, at this time, whether that’s financial or through volunteering.

To Minnesota’s state parks.

It was great to see the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources again waive fees to all 75 state parks and recreation areas Friday during the “Free Park Day” initiative.

The initiative allows people into the parks free for four days each year in an attempt to encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy the health and wellness benefits of spending time in nature.

In Albert Lea, we are blessed to have Myre-Big Island State Park, which has previously named one of the top attractions in all of southern Minnesota by Explore Minnesota.

The park is a popular destination for camping, hiking and canoeing and is also a place people frequent to watch for birds and other animals.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources this summer added all-terrain, electric-powered track chairs to help people explore more trails.

We encourage you to get out and take advantage of this state park and others in future Free Park Days.