To the editor:
"Do It Right The First Time!"
How many of us have had our father tell us this as we grew up? I know I sure did and as much as I may have fought it as a teenager, it sure rings true as an adult. Naturally, I tried to pass it on to my boys!
About two months ago a reader wrote in to The Journal about the new Catholic Diocesan Center being built at the corner of 5th North and Highland. As I recall, the gist of the letter was that it was too elaborate and that the money likely being spent on it would be better off serving the needy of the parish.
On the face of that claim the logic may appear to have some merit, but as with so many things, there's another side to the argument - one I hope to expose here.
By way of disclosure, I was raised Catholic, but no longer am so my views are not tainted by a religious affiliation. Also, I have been in the travel and tourism business for 31 years and as a result have been to many places around the globe. Living within that profession and with those personal interests has affected my views!
New Ulm is a great example of "doing it right." Every day for the last 15 years working at the Visitor Center I hear people tell me how lovely our town is - to the point that even if I didn't already believe it, I would have by now! We have many examples of excellent architecture that could have been done more simply, such as the Hermann Monument, the new Fire Station, the Glockenspiel, the Civic Center, German Park, the Brown County Historical Society Museum, Schell's Brewery's Visitor Center, the MLC Chapel, the Cathedral, the Grand Hotel, the St. John's Church addition, and many more. Every one of these is an example of not being "necessary" and that it could have been built in a simpler, more "functional-only" manner.
However, the controlling entities with all of these chose to spend more to "do it right the first time." Why? There is a pride in having something beautiful. It speaks to how much you care about something. It is a source of pride and with that pride comes a responsibility to take care of it. It speaks to the seriousness with which the owning organization takes themselves. A tasteful building says "I care!"
It is often a truism that spending a bit more on better quality materials yields a better finished product that is cheaper in the long run. This building may well last longer than a cheaper, functional-only building!
As a traveler I seek out destinations with remarkable architecture and in traveling there, I spent money. Perhaps one could say that no single building or structure in New Ulm draws people to see just it (Hermann being the biggest exception), but cumulatively we have a wealth of notable architecture that draw in visitors. That spending enriches New Ulm to a degree much greater than most people would know!
I have also been told by people "in the know" that the money raised by the Diocese for this building was money raised by donations, it wasn't an additional tithe or collection paid by the congregation as a whole.
I close in saying, "Great job, New Ulm Diocese, you did it right the first time." Thanks for giving me one more reason to be proud of being from New Ulm!