Live Blog — First Set of Public Comment

Public comment is underway here at Presentation Hall at the Mayo Civic Center. Members are sharing their perspectives on the plan and how it may affect their lives. Below is a sampling of remarks through the first 45 minutes of dialogue.

A representative from the Rochester Area Interfaith Leaders — “Extreme concern for social services for this population of people.” … Social services are not mentioned once in the entire 694-page plan. She asked the Board of Directors to provide further detail about why social services receive no mention.

Rochester resident Nancy Slocumb has spoken at every board meeting and public hearing. She approached the board again tonight to thank the directors for their work on the plan so far, and to with them “the very best of luck and smart deliberation.” Additionally, she reiterated her concern for historical preservation in the DMC District, a recurrent theme of her comments to the board.

Jerome Ferson, president of the United Way of Olmsted County, received applause for his comments. He requested the DMC Corporation Board consider working with Olmsted County Public Health Services Advisory Board. Ferson read a pre-written letter into the record requesting this collaboration and seeking the board’s commitment to incorporate PHSAB input into the DMC development process.

Ferson recited at least a dozen signatories to the letter, including the Rochester Area Family YMCA, the Rochester Public Library, and several minority and disability advocacy organizations.

Andrea Kiepe, southern and southeastern Minnesota organizer for the Sierra Club’s North Star Chapter, approached the microphone to urge the board to pursue  “Rochester should not play it safe on DMC. We should push forward,” Kiepe said. “We should push forward with the absolute platinum standard on energy efficiency … because that will enhance the brand.”

Ben Creo, an entrepreneurial resident of Rochester who helped launch a tech startup in New England and is now involved in the local startup scene, stressed integration of biotechnology into the area and regional economy. And beyond that, Creo emphasized the need to build a system that supports a diversity of medical and biotechnology companies, as well as other non-medical entrepreneurial ventures.

“To ride these waves, we ned to build a great surfboard that everyone can ride on–today,” Creo said.

He pointed to North Carolina, which organized and orchestrated Research Triangle Region in the 1980s, as an example of success. Since opening the Research Triangle, the state has become the third-leading producer of biotechnology, following California and Massachusetts.

“We want to be careful we don’t put all our eggs in one basket–it’s a wonderful basket, Mayo Clinic–but it’s still one basket,” Creo said. “We need to build that basket out of titanium, which is what DMC is doing.”

Kevin Lund, a judge in Olmsted County, urged the board to re-evaluate more than 200 properties within the DMC District that currently have no guaranteed protection under the DMC Plan. Lund asserted that the for-profit 106 Group, which conducted the historical assessment of individual buildings, submitted an incomplete and only partially informed report.

“This is important to a lot of people in this community,” Lund said. “This is an inacurate document … and it doesn’t reflect what we should consider worthy of preservation moving forward.”