We're in this together

By Chuck Kajer

Two weeks ago the New Market Township Board turned down a proposal from On-Site Marketing and the New Prague Area Schools to allow the city of New Market to annex 170 acres of land, 60 of which would have been designated for a new elementary school and a future middle school.

Township officials were concerned about leapfrog development, with the site not being contiguous with the current New Market city limits. That is a valid concern. However, the New Market area, after having to rein in the pace of its growth due to limits on the sewer system the city shares with Elko, has gotten permission from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to expand the sewer treatment plant. The added capacity will allow developments that had been put on hold the chance to finally go forward. At a recent city council meeting, city officials were informed of the status of several developments that had been on the back burner and are now ready for work.

No matter where the school goes in New Market, it will be only a matter of time before the houses follow. Few things will spur residential housing booms like a new school. Recognizing this, the school district has been working with developers in both New Prague and New Market to allow for an orderly growth pattern, with parkland, streets and utilities laid out in an orderly fashion. Such planning will also pay off by allowing the cost of the infrastructure to be shared between the school and the developer.

Next week, On-Site and the school district will present an amended proposal, for annexation of 130 acres into the city. Township officials are sure to have some questions regarding the location of the school and the pace of development in the area. School officials need to give good answers to these concerns, and township officials need to listen with an open mind to the proposal. Many of the taxpayers in New Market Township are also taxpayers in the New Prague Area School District. Both groups owe it to their constituents to make sure a well-designed, well thought-out proposal gets the proper consideration. The district needs to present a proposal the town board can approve, and the town board should approve the proposal if the district can show that it is sound.

If either side fails, it won't be the school board or the township board that fails. It will be the taxpayers who voted for the proposal. They won't get the school in time, and when they do get it, it will cost a lot more.

And if that happens, we all lose.

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