From: Taff Roberts
I can understand the reluctance of our mayor and our City Council members to take on another financial obligation in relocating the Winona Friendship Center to the East End Recreation Center. Malia Storovich and her crew have very successfully run the center to accommodate the needs of the senior adults of Winona County for many years, and created programs that have caught the attention of many admirers around the country. Moving the center to the East End would fulfill the needs of the growing number of seniors in our city, making room for new programs, goals, and parking.
Can the city subsidize restoring the Masonic Lodge and create a multipurpose artist venue? This July, while attending GRSF, the Beethoven Festival and a free concert at the levee, I sat next to folks from Rochester, Minneapolis and La Crescent, Minn. They were all in awe of the creative and progressive events and initiatives that are mushrooming in Winona through the arts. Yes, we have music festivals, Shakespeare, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, a state-of-the-art levee, a local brewery, and, soon, a floating performance center.
Yes, the Winona business community, as well as Winona State University, is a great turbine that generates a healthy economy, but please do not hold back or underestimate the power of the present arts movement here in Winona, and in small cities all across America. I ask that the mayor and council members do the right thing and approve the move of the Senior Friendship Center to the East End Recreation Center and support the funds to re-purpose the first floor of the Masonic Lodge. The financial benefits to the community will be indirectly through taxes from local businesses, hotels, restaurants, and shops. I find it personally very exciting to see families and young people from Winona, who left for the big cities, returning today to invest and create their own businesses and niches in our river town.