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Montgomery thinks the city needs something more. She believes Edina is falling behind other communities that have more complete facilities at their community centers.
“There is no true recreation there; it’s a school building that’s been repurposed,” she said. “It’s often taken up by meetings.”
Though Montgomery said she fears the Edina schools may need the building back if enrollment goes up, Hovland said he has been assured by school officials that even if enrollment increases, they would need only a small portion of the building.
Neuendorf said the city could use more performing arts space, recreational spaces like gyms and multipurpose rooms that can be used for a variety of events. The council will hear a presentation on what residents said in the winter survey on May 6.
Neuendorf said he understands why some people are concerned about the city’s plan to let developers shape proposals for the site.
“I think a lot of people have concerns about working with the redevelopment community; some have reputations not much better than used-car salesmen,” he said. “But as the City Council gave us direction on how to move forward, it was rooted in the assumption that the city owns the land and controls anything that happens on it.
“They were definitely united that the city does not want to relinquish control of the site.”
Montgomery said developers have no incentive to include public space in their plans. She thinks the city should follow the planning model of Vancouver, Wash., where the city got cost estimates on features that could go into a community center, did a detailed market analysis and held open houses for residents.
“They said, here are possible things you as a community could have in a community facility, and here are the costs, and here are the trends, and based on this information, what’s most important to you as a community?” she said. “Then they took the data from community meetings and designed the facility.
“I think part of the problem here is that because the city has not talked about a community center, people can’t envision it. They don’t know it’s a possibility.”
Hovland said that after three years of study about the site’s future, the proposal to seek the input of developers reflected the wishes of a larger group that studied the Grandview area. He said there is nothing wrong with asking for proposals that may result in “private investment for public purpose” on a site that the city owns and controls. The city does need more performing space, he said, and that might be a component of development there.
“We need to be creative and innovative with this opportunity; what’s wrong with seeing what the private sector thinks of it?” he said. “We own the land. If we don’t like what we see as a council, we don’t have to do it.”
Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380