From: Judy Morrison
To the City Council members/Park Recreation Department: I have not read anything in our local newspapers or heard on our radio stations any updates on discussions you must be having regarding Winona State University’s (WSU) proposal to the city to build a NCAA-approved baseball field and stadium in Lake Winona Park’s Bambenek Field. Is this not news that should be announced to the public?
To the residents of Winona: Are you aware of the impending proposal by Winona State University (WSU) to build a NCAA-approved baseball field in Lake Winona Park’s Bambenek Field? This additional WSU ball field will be adjacent (directly east) of the softball field located off Franklin and Sarnia streets. (You know, the “purple one.”) By the way, WSU leases this property from the city, but does not pay a penny in rent! All because WSU renovated it to suit their softball field needs and they will share it with others, but only when they are not using it. This proposal has been submitted to the city and is to be voted on very soon by the City Council. This will have a serious impact on Bambenek Field, as well as surrounding neighborhoods.
Lake Winona Park is a treasure to Winona’s residents; therefore, its destiny should not be left up to the City Council or the organized sports/WSU advocates. The residents of Winona and many from out of town use Lake Winona Park for many purposes. The fact that a conglomerate such as WSU wants another “piece of the pie” is very disturbing and shameful if our city (including our school district) continues to let them claim portions of our small town (for student housing buildings and empty parking lots) and recreation facilities (Paul Giel Field and the softball field already in Lake Winona Park). Other property I’m aware of (there must be more) is Lourdes Hall, which was part of the now defunct St. Teresa’s College. All of this for whose convenience? Why doesn’t WSU go after property on the outskirts of town and build on those properties and leave our inner city properties alone? The utter chaos that will be produced on game days (traffic and people congestion, noise, littering, etc., etc., etc.) will be horrific — not only to Lake Winona Park, but to the surrounding neighborhoods. The Jaycee Pavilion will be torn down and another one built adjacent to the baseball field. The playground equipment off Hamilton and Sarnia streets will be relocated next to the baseball field. The bleachers will accommodate about 500 people. That is a lot of needed parking. Another field will be desecrated to meet the parking needs, but the majority of vehicles will spill out along the lake roadway, Sarnia and Franklin streets, as well as into surrounding neighborhoods.
The decision to theoretically convert Lake Winona Park into “WSU’s Park” should not solely be that of the City Council, Park and Recreation Department (or WSU, for that matter). This is a very serious issue and the residents of Winona should have their say. Winonans, please, do not let WSU and its supporters of this development have their own way (again). Please let them hear your roar! Remember, the “squeaky wheel gets the grease!” Let your council man/woman hear from you immediately — time is running out! If you do not the City Council/Park and Recreation Department will more than likely give in to WSU as they did before. Then, what is done is done! This is your park and your city. If you are not sure who your council person is, please call the City Clerk’s office at city hall, 457-8200, to find out. To WSU: By all means, your intent to build a NCAA-approved baseball field is all well and good and should be supported. IT JUST SHOULD NOT BE BUILT IN OUR PARK!