City of Onamia
Invades Bradbury Township
How would you feel if one day
you read in the paper that a sex offender treatment facility was being relocated
to your "backyard"? Would you be stunned? We were. Although aware that Mille
Lacs Academy (Nexus) planned to relocate from Crosier, and several sites were
being considered, we were surprised to learn that the City of Onamia was
annexing land from Bradbury Township, then rezoning rural acreage for the
construction of a three-building complex to house approximately 90 juvenile sex
offenders. The Onamia City Council had crossed the line.
"How can they do this?"
horrified neighbors asked. The Onamia City Council, who’d been planning the
takeover for months, failed to notify the very residents who’d be impacted most
by their decision. No Bradbury Township Board member had an inkling that land
from our township would be snatched without our consent. Nobody was given fair
warning. Distressed neighbors, anxious to unearth facts about their sudden
predicament, addressed city leaders, hearing the same verbatim comeback, "It’s a
Done Deal. There's nothing you can do about it."
But, is this 40 acre plot west
of the Rum River really the ideal location for a sex offender facility? There
are factors which argue against it. What about the three day care centers in the
immediate vicinity? Think about it. Are the children really safe? Will parents
continue to utilize these day cares? And if these little businesses decide to
relocate, do you think that the City of Onamia will make generous offers to
entice them to stay here? Probably not. Individuals and some businesses seem to
be sacrificed as “collateral damage” when government, even city government, has
its own agenda.
What about the families in the
neighborhood? Don’t we have any say in something which affects us so personally?
Apparently not. Some folks, born and raised on family farms, have lived here
most of their lives. Some, like my mom, are elderly. No amount of pacification
through vague safety reports or risk management rhetoric will ease their minds.
They’re old enough to know better. Some of us moved here seeking a quiet,
peaceful existence away from the hullabaloo of urban life. We’ve all chosen
country living. Remember: “If you build it, They will come.” We’re a
neighborhood of long-time tax payers who’ve spent years supporting our community
while chasing our fields of dreams. We trusted our city officials to watch our
backs, never anticipating they would stab us in them.
When does "For the Good of the
Community" over-ride a private citizen's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness? That’s a good question. I began wondering if the “Good of the
Community” was much of a consideration at all when I discovered that the Onamia
City Council lacks a current, short-term, or long-term City Plan. The last city
plan was written in 1978. Are buildings erected haphazardly at random? Located
near both Lake Onamia and the Rum River, this 24/7/360 facility will drastically
affect the area: with parking lots, new paved roads, sewer lines, electric,
street lights, etc. Yet, there’s been no Environmental Impact Study. Likewise,
no traffic study, no long-term projection, no community input, etc. Hasn’t
anyone thought beyond just keeping the Mille Lacs Academy in Onamia? It would
“Not in MY backyard!”?
Well, perhaps my backyard's simply not the most suitable location for a juvenile
sex offender treatment facility. How ridiculous! Even a city as small as Onamia,
requires careful planning by competent leaders capable of making
intelligent decisions for the good of the community, the entire
community, including its neighbors on the west side of the Rum.
Bradbury Township Resident