To the editor:
We are writing to you in response to the article published in the Early Sunday edition of May 6, regarding the urban renewal and beautification of sidewalks and streets in the city of Anoka.
We are insulted! You did damage! Conveying to our customers that they are at risk for coming to do business in Anoka is not the action of a responsible, supportive newspaper. Since the publication of this article, many from the business community have heard from their would-be customers that "Anoka is entirely torn up by construction," and that they believe they should avoid visiting our town to do business because everything was closed or inaccessible. The Star Tribune readership in this town (you've lost a few now) should expect that your metropolitan newspaper, rather than incorrectly suggest we are closed down, would applaud our wisdom in upgrading our thoroughfares. Instead of insulting one of your advertising accounts, you should have congratulated Anoka on the attempt to make ourselves better and conveyed clearly and enthusiastically to your readership that we are open for business and capable of serving our customers with the same great goods and same friendly service we are known for.
We question the purpose of the thrust of this article and the headline calling us exiles. [note: Headline: "Exiles on Main Street." Summary: "A block-at-a-time construction project in downtown Anoka promises long-term gain, but for now merchants are feeling short-term pain."] At best, a sensationalized, slanted piece of journalism. Why did you call our make-over project a mess?
You wrote that we are watching helplessly. No way! A majority of the 39 members of the RDA Merchant Group and 600 plus members of the Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce have followed this improvement project with approval since 2008 when it was introduced by the Anoka City Council. It is a staged, carefully planned reconstruction of the thoroughfares in the city, funded by an exemplary financing system requiring no assessments to the business owners. The communication between the business community and the public works department, engineering, and administrative elements of the city has provided merchants with opportunities to be a part of the planning, building, and advertising of this project. We have been heard, our concerns answered. This project carefully closes only 1/12 of the area at once, and gives special consideration to our city festivals. Those businesspeople who ignored the communications, failed to follow directives and ordinances, and developed a public negative attitude towards the project were very few. Did you seek out the naysayers, or were you unlucky enough to cross their paths all in one day?
We challenge you to make this right. Come back with your cameras and show the beauty of the new project, the impressive financing package and the safer sidewalks. Write about how awesome it is that Anoka's construction is providing employment during this tough time. Don't report comments from city officials out of context or portray opinions of "traffic jams," or "business exiles," with exaggeration.
Become aware of our survival during the reconstruction of both bridge replacements on Hwy 169, tornadoes, recessions, and a massive fire. Make note, we are still standing strong. Report with wholeness, integrity, professionalism and fairness. Write from a real perspective of how a small town needs to grow to be poised for the improving economy and how the unity of the commercial entities, service organizations and governmental elements has strengthened Anoka to further this street and sidewalk project. Write about our faithful customers who have the intelligence to read our signs and allow some inconvenience. Build your credibility with us by heeding the comforting words from Jenson's, "Our customers know we're here. They'll find us." Allow us our pride in the Anoka community.
The Merchants and Citizens of Anoka. Rediscover Anoka Merchant Group (RDA)