Questions on Little Falls recreational complex still need answers

By Brian-Paul Crowder, Guest Columnist

Theoretically, I am enormously in favor of the city of Little Falls having an Area Recreational Complex. Theoretically.

Despite voting “No,” I don’t necessarily object to the city moving ahead with the project; what I object to and voted against was its poor planning.

There has been so much attention focused on our “wish list” but like kids at Christmastime, it’s then up to the adults in the equation to thoroughly review all aspects and determine the requests’ real-life feasibility. I think most of us can say that at some point in childhood we asked for a pony, but if you have a small backyard and your family struggles to buy food each week, then a pony is out of the question regardless of how wonderful it would be to give such an extravagant gift.

In the case of the Little Falls Area Recreational Complex, I don’t think the answer is an obvious “No.” What I do think however, is that the most important and fundamental questions and issues have yet to be fully addressed.

We can come up with the funds to build a house and draft plans to purchase beautiful materials, but if we fail to give due consideration to the ground, foundation and long-term day-to-day costs, we risk our investment turning to ruin.

First, we’re asking taxpayers to shoulder capital costs of over $7 million through a local option sales tax in the city of Little Falls, over a 12-year period. But, even during the final presentation on July 7, there was still no clear plan as to how the city intended to cover the $20,000 or more it will cost annually to operate and maintain the splash pad alone, not to mention maintenance of baseball fields.

Any school district can attest to how expensive this is. When the mayor answered the splash pad maintenance concern by saying, “We easily bellied up to $25,000 for the golf course this year,” she unwittingly made my case and point to the tee.

The golf course was established under the very same pretense as the recreational complex we’re now considering, yet here we are decades later, “bellying up” to subsidize its operations year after year with a Golf Board that hasn’t met since 2012.

I think we have a responsibility to ensure that today’s hard-earned investments don’t become tomorrow’s relentless financial drain to our taxpayers.


Brian-Paul Crowder is the alderman-at-large for the city of Little Falls. 


  • robin hensel

    Well said!!!

  • tmac

    Many valid points here.
    I just wonder if the Record will be accused of giving free advertising to this elected official like they were when the mayor submitted a letter.

    • robin hensel

      Well…since the mayor was able to boast about an over-priced recreational complex(in the 6th from the poorest county in Minnesota)….why not a legitimate counter article with relevant question$ about maintenance and operating costs?

    • Is he running for re election?

      • tmac

        I hope not.

        • Agreed, its so much better having a administration who UNANIMOUSLY votes for poorly planned projects like this! I mean as long as the “good people” have good jobs and get their taxpayer subsidized trips to France and a taxpayer subsidized golf course who cares how big of a millstone they hang around the neck’s of everyone else! They’d probably be poor no matter what anyway! So sad that there’s all the “political stuff” making the good people feel so intimated and uncomfortable! You’d swear they were important LEGAL issues rather than just a few sour grapes stirring up trouble! I mean what’s the big deal about the Mayor telling everyone that the city IS a non profit? Its not like the laws and rules should apply in such a small town and what they’re doing works fine! Better than 60% live in poverty but the ‘right people” have it good! They should be able to manipulate laws to keep it that way.

          • tmac

            ” Better than 60% live in poverty …”
            Can you share where you found that statistic?
            I have not seen any number like that.

          • Sorry, I owe a clarification…over 50 and 60 percent of children live in poverty. They’re the percentages that qualify for free and reduced lunch.

          • tmac

            Again, where did you see those statistics?

            I saw that about 27% qualified for free lunch and 7% for reduced.

            Those numbers (although still way to high )are nowhere near 50 to 60 %.
            I saw the same numbers on numerous sites.


          • Obviously not from your website I’ll track it back down but in the meantime
            …your site says:
            Lindbergh 39.1% plus 7.7%
            Lincoln 35.1% plus 11.9%
            Little Falls 23.7% plus 8.3%
            continuing 19.5% plus 12.2%
            Community 32.6% plus 12.8%

            Mid State Success 54.5%

            But the website is showing a combined total for all little Falls Schools is a 27% Free and 7.7% reduced? I’m not a math wiz but… I’m not sure how you arrive upon those figures either.

          • Rick Witte

            You might also want to squeeze out those that actually live in the City as the School District is larger than the City of Little Falls.

        • newpolitiq7

          Well-written piece that raises many good points for taxpayers to consider. That said, I’m not sure I’d vote to re-elect this council member if he chooses to run for re-election. I do hope there will be other open-minded, critical thinkers who decide to run for office.

  • Concerned citizen


  • Rhonda M. Schmidt

    To my knowledge, there has never been a taxpayer subsidized trip to France for anyone – Mayors, Cmte members, Council Members all paid their own way.

    • I’m sure you’re well aware of how kickback’s work, Rhonda. French pay to pamper Little Falls guests and the CITY taxpayers pay to pamper the French as part of that reciprocating agreement. Except from here on out area participants will have to take their grubby hands out of the taxpayers pockets and fund raise just like the French have been doing for years. Wait…council members went to France on the kickback program? Wonder what the State Auditor will think of that? And, isn’t conflict of interest illegal anywhere in this town? Or did the said council member recuse themselves from voting on funding? I sure hope so:D

    • robin hensel

      Rhonda… you REALLY believe anyone is buying your justification of MISUSE OF PUBLIC FUNDS? REALLY¿¿¿¿¿ Come on. I sure hope my fellow Swellville neighbors are brighter than that. Must feel pretty awkward to have your “poofy party opportunity hoarding click” exposed. Wonder what the $$$ amount total is that Swellville residents were soaked for, during the last two decades of this small group of public fund “dipper$”?

    • robin hensel

      Rhonda….i just bet somebody will get around to insisting all the public funds that were misused be added up and paid back. Just betcha.

      • They should be paid back. I hope its not dropped as an issue until it is. I also think the Mayor’s vote to fund the group with her daughter being one of the precipitants was a huge conflict of interest….yet she once again never recused herself from voting. If she wasn’t up for re election I think between her illegal fund raising, then publicly denying fundraising, telling people the city was a non profit, issues of conflict of interest and misuse of public funds I’d push for a recall election. She doesn’t know what she’s doing and as many times as she’s flagrantly wrong, she makes no effort to adhering to any rules whatsoever.