(The following Letter to the Editor has been submitted by Ted Schacherer of Decorah):
"Monday night's Planning and Zoning Committee meeting was an exercise in true community.
26 individuals spoke and raised concerns about the Menard's construction on a floodplain. The concerns not only pertained to personal property, but those affected downstream. Decorah takes care of its own. This is the pure definition of community. Those in attendance signaled to Menard's a resounding 'no' that no matter where they lived in Decorah, Menard's should not build on a floodplain.
Cue Menard's representative and real estate acquisitions operators Tyler Edwards. Not once did he address any of these concerns specifically in a human way--the way that those who live in community address each other. His statements implied a foregone conclusion that this building was to be built and that this was 'really no big deal." I can't imagine what those who have been deeply affected by flooded homes and destroyed property felt.
The stories from our neighbors in Freeport and other locations downstream from 2016 and 2008 saddened me. People had lost their livelihoods and properties and were forced to deal with issues that they wouldn't have dealt with prior to a floodplain being built upon in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, I didn't sense any reaction by Mr. Edwards that he took that to heart and was empathetic of their positions. Some foolish part of me wanted to see an empathetic gesture to those with concerns. I saw nothing of the sort--and I guess I'm not surprised, given Menard's corporate track record.
My wife and I moved to Decorah four years ago. We've lived in surrounding communities and decided to make this our home. We feel that this place's most important characteristic is the people and the way we care for each other here. By reading the body language of Mr. Edwards, it's just another deal to make and a town in which to make money. I'm sure he gets a commission for every deal he makes from the corporate bosses.
I love Decorah--I love the people here. Decorah embraces the very nature of community, which is caring for each other--an attribute Menard's fails to show us.
Quite honestly, we're better than this."