From: James Johnson
On Thursday, many citizens in Winona attended the Winona Port Authority’s hearing on an industrial park expansion proposal that included the western half of Latsch Island.
We would not have known about the importance of this hearing had it not been for the Winona Post article, “Latsch Island: Winona’s next industrial park?”
Many speakers at the hearing raised a big question: How would we have known this was taking place if the Winona Post hadn’t reported on it? When would we have found out?
As the article mentioned, “Neither [City Manager Judy Bodway] nor other city staff made any announcement or mention of the decision to include Latsch Island and the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge in the industrial expansion.” The only notice was a map on the August 8th Port Authority agenda, though the change to Latsch Island was not an agenda item.
Does that sound like transparency to you?
If the Winona Post staff had not researched and published this information, the western half of Latsch Island would certainly have been included in the city’s industrial development expansion. This action would have removed “one of the last remaining controls over parkland from the hands of citizens.”
Regardless of whether or not the Port Authority had development plans for Latsch in the works, citizens deserved to know that the Port Authority was making a major change that could have potentialy left Latsch Island vulnerable to development.
Thankfully, we have a local newspaper that promotes transparency from our local officials.