To the editor:
When I was running for the City Council last fall, I pledged that, if elected, I would have the city celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks. Unfortunately, I didn't have an opportunity to explain how I would accomplish that when city officials haven't been able to do it.
As I just yesterday sent a letter to our city's Park and Rec director explaining how it could be done, I thought I would share that the Journal's readers as well. It's basically pretty simple.
When I was going through the city's proposed budget for 2013 before the election, I noted that the Park and Rec department had a number of "Miscellaneous" categories in its budget. That simply means that the money assigned to that type of category isn't designated for a specific purpose and can be used for any other purpose at the discretion of the director.
With that in mind, I wrote to the director to outline my "Fourth of July" proposal. As I told him, I felt the path to follow would be for the Park and Rec Department to present a proposal to the City Council to have the Fourth of July designated Park and Recreation Recognition Day.
With that designation, the Park and Rec folks could set up a day long "Recognition"program in which there could be tours of the city's park and rec system with "pickup" softball games or other types of games at the various park locations, for example. With horse-drawn wagons carrying visitors, these visitors could hop off anywhere and join in playing in the various games with a "food stand" or two for people to eat lunch. Then, as the day ends, everyone would gather at the location where the fireworks (paid for from one of those miscellaneous funds) would be shot off, ending the day's celebration.
Now, that's my vision, but I'm not saying that's the only way to do it. The important thing is that the good people of New Ulm realize that city officials' stand in the past against having a celebration on the Fourth of July in New Ulm was seriously detrimental to the good folks in town who run restaurants, bars and other service-type businesses like New Ulm Taxi for example. It's way past time to change that negative attitude among city officials for good.
In addition to that suggestion, I also had another suggestion for Mr. Schmitz. As those who followed the councilor-at-large campaign last fall probably know, I was critical of the Park & Rec Department becoming a money-making machine that charges big bucks for "membership" in the physical-fitness "club" out there where the annual membership "fee" runs up to over $500.
However, the suggestion I have will probably cost individuals taking part in it maybe $5 to $10 to do it, but I think people will find it very worthwhile. What I'm talking about is "building" a nine-hole, par three golf course here in New Ulm. As I told Mr. Schmitz, the folks at the Country Club probably won't like it, but ifs time New Ulm had something specifically for those of us who don't have the big bucks but still want to enjoy the game of golf.
While it should have grass greens, there should be a way to carve out a nine-hole course from existing city land without having to buy too much more, and who knows maybe there will be funds available from the state for such a recreational project. It certainly is worth trying because we definitely have to let people of "lesser" means that they're still welcome here. Frankly put, the "haves" in this town have not been that nice to the "have nots."
Ronald L.W. Larsen