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A modest proposal by Jim Dale of Decorah on how to resolve the Menards situation

Posted: Wed, Oct 3, 2018 10:58 AM

(The following is a Letter to the Editor submitted by Jim Dale of Decorah):

"As I traveled south on a brief family visit last week, I crossed several major Iowa rivers--the Wapsipinicon, the Iowa, the Cedar.  All were brimming full, some into their relief valve floodplains. I thought to myself, 'What an ingenious device nature has created to protect neighboring communities from the vicissitudes of spring and fall rains and rivers.'

The homes and businesses of Independence, Marshalltown, Belle Plaine and Vinton all buzzed with their regular daily routines in spite of the deluge of sky water from the past few weeks. The only places shut down were those built in the floodplains.

Then I thought of the debate going on in Decorah over whether to allow Menards to fill, raise (destroy) and build in the floodplain, channeling the excess water on to Freeport or backing it up to the diked banks of low land Decorah.

Then another image came to me. I had recently traveled through Harpers Ferry on the banks of the Mississippi and seen houses built over the river on stilts. Why couldn't Menards do that? That way they could allow nature to continue to function as she had designed the river, keep Decorah and Freeport safe and still attach herself symbiotically to Walmart.

'But that would be too expensive,' you say.  Perhaps, but hauling in tons of fill would also be expensive and Menards seems to prefer that to building on the hill in the business park. I had recently traveled to Rochester MN and parked in a 6 story lot so I know it can be done. The bottom floor could be left to Mother Nature. This would also have the side benefit of not passing on the cost of flood damage clean up to their neighbors and customers.  (Though I do recognize that Menards might sell lots of supplies to folks trying to rebuild after a flood.)

Perhaps Menards could even go a step further and cover their roof with solar panels (like many Decorah businesses have done), thus keeping the air clean from fossil fuel furnaces and electric power plants. What a good will gesture to a hosting community!  I bet Alliant Energy would even help them. A modest proposal but a win, win, win."