Mel Olson: Community center proposal is a ‘waste of taxpayer money’

I did an interview with ever-quotable City Councilman-elect Mel Olson last week, which we published Saturday as a Q&A. One of the more interesting quotes from Olson was this one about the city’s proposed "community center":

"Well, I think this current idea of a community center that duplicates services we already have is a waste of taxpayer money. We already have an indoor pool at the Rec, we already have an exercise facility at the Rec, we already have gymnasiums at the Rec and the armory, there are already private firms that have exercise facilities. And so, to build a community center on the Wesleyan campus that is not the events center that people were talking about, I think that’s a waste of money.”

In case you hadn’t heard, "community center" is what the powers-that-be are now calling the newest arena proposal. The arena — and a wellness center and indoor pool — would be built jointly by the city, Avera Queen of Peace Health System and Dakota Wesleyan University. It would be located on the DWU campus, east of the Christen Family Wellness Center.

Prior to my interview with Olson (who takes office next month), I don’t believe I heard any public official say anything negative about the community-center idea.

What do you think of Olson’s take on the issue?

19 thoughts on “Mel Olson: Community center proposal is a ‘waste of taxpayer money’

  1. I think it is a bad idea….encouraged by DWU. Why not get a pool provided by the hospital and city? Take, take, take……and they will control.

  2. Leave it to Mel to say what is on a LOT of people’s minds. I don’t always agree with him but he says what he means and means what he says. I agree with him this time. The Council, too often is a victim of group think and needed a person with core values like Mel.

  3. I think Mel needs more information to reach his conclusions. Coming into council with predetermined conclusions is foolish. That’s like a judge thinking someone is guilty w/o having heard all the evidence. How many council meetings and Focus 20/20 meetings did Mel attend? I don’t recall seeing him at any of them…so clearly he does not have all the information.

    Hennepin: Why is it that “so many” people have things on their minds and yet “so few” ever voice them in public? This blog hardly qualifies as public.

  4. Well, I have voiced my opinion, but not to the 20/20 group. List their names. Are they common taxpayers, or business owners/politicans that want to see their future improve through more spending?
    Mitchell is a good town, but living in debt is not, in my eyes, going to make it better. Higher taxes will not improve anything.

  5. I totally agree with Mel. He is an informed intelligent man and is one who thinks through things before rendering an opinion.

    Given the financial turmoil that DWU is in, its declining enrollments and how like the path of Huron University it is on, I, for one, do not want to be left holding the proverbial bag when they go under. If DWU wants a “center” they can build it themselves – don’t ask for my dollars.

  6. I agree that we do not need a community center, however I am strongly in favor of an events center. Mitchell is the big loser in this debate. Other cities are stealing the tax revenue right out from under us!

  7. Taxpayer you may want to look around the state and see how many events are going elsewhere because the sacred Corn Palace can not accomadate them. These other cities are on the move, soon Sioux Falls will steal everything with theis new center. Good luck mitchell when that happens! We will be ok as long as the Corn Palace doesn’t fall over right?

  8. Charlie, SF is stewing over their arena/center just as we are. They can’t get enough events to make it profitable either….and some want big and better. Go figure.
    Spending money in order to out spend your neighbor does not put money in the bank. Our Corn Palace can’t pay it’s own way. How in the world would a bigger more expensive place pay for itself?
    (Now don’t tell me the Corn Palace could get better entertainment if it could seat more people. It would also cost more to attend, and our ecomomic clientele would not/could not pay more.)

  9. If you truly think that an Arena would make money in Mitchell then I’ve got some prime land in Florida I’d like to sell you.

  10. Would an events center have prevented all the layoffs? Heck NO! An events center is an over priced ego boost for the high and mighty in this town with ZERO benefit to the taxpayer. And to Hawk, Hennepin is right. Most people do not dare air their opinions for fear of their business being boycotted by the haves. Thank you Mel for looking out for us. We do not need more $7.50 per hour tourism jobs. It cracks me up the economic impact that is claimed. Pam used to claim about $100 per head on buses. Has anyone ever seen anybody on those buses drop more that $20 with most ZERO. Sioux Falls was claiming about $100 per head per day for the tournies last weekend. BULL! Protect the Corn Palace and NO NEW EVENTS CENTER!

  11. Factor Fan you must not realize how finances work. If less people come to Mitchell and spend money then your property taxes will go up. If that is not enough the city has the right to raise food sales and other merchandise taxes to help fill the budget. Yes it would cost money up front but only small amounts to the tax payer. Or we could wait until our property taxes go up to supplement the general fund!

  12. Have some more Kool-Aid Charlie. You won’t be able to afford soda. ;) Less people will come to Mitchell if we don’t take care of the Corn Palace. An Event Center will do a net Zero for our city. I have been running successful businesses for over 30 years, how about you? I CAN afford the tax increase but I choose NOT to for the benefit of all. What is your interest? Event Center = Change we can believe in. We see how well that is working.

  13. I agree with taxpayer! Why build something new, when we can’t even keep our CP in the good. Just because we build something bigger and better, doesn’t mean we will get the “trendy” acts. They cost $$$$ to book, that will effect ticket prices and who can afford that. Big names will play smaller venues, if the money is there. As for comparing Sioux Falls to Mitchell, we aren’t even close. There are two major interstates in SF, more population, more activities, and a major airport! It is like comparing SF to Detroit! Mitchell will never be SF or be able to compete with the larger metro areas. We are a stop along the interstae for weary travelors. Just like so many other smaller cities across the USA.

  14. I think Factor Fan and Concerned are right on. Also, I think the entertainers scheduled for the Corn Palace festival this year is pretty darn good. I don’t know much about David Cook, but I do know that his concerts have been sellouts in larger places in the country. We have had some great entertainment in the past and looks like we will again this year. Remember – we never seem to be able to have sellout crowds at the Corn Palace even with top entertainment so why would we need 1500 more seats to worry about? Concerned is right. We are not Sioux Falls – thank goodness!

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