Park Rapids City Council asks Walz to relax business restrictions
The city’s letter runs parallel to Hubbard County’s, with differences.
In an emergency conference call on Tuesday night, the Park Rapids City Council decided to send a letter and resolution to Gov. Tim Walz asking for clarification about his shutdown of many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Initially, the council was asked to consider writing Walz substantially the same letter that the Hubbard County Board had decided Tuesday morning to send through State Sen. Paul Utke.
Concerns about tone
City council member Erika Randall voiced concern about the tone of the county board’s letter, particularly the second paragraph, which she felt was disrespectful.
Citing such phrases as “really of no use at all,” Randall suggested taking into consideration the difficulty of Gov. Walz’s position and the “tough decisions” he has to make.
Council member Tom Conway agreed that the county’s letter needed rewording, adding that he was unsure it takes into account the vulnerability of the county’s citizens.
“I don’t have the resources to be able to say how much of a medical risk is there if we open this county up,” he said. “I’m not quite convinced that we want to take this strong a stance.”
Conway said he thinks the federal and state governments have better resources to make intelligent decisions about public health and the economy. “I do realize it’s having an impact, believe me,” he said.
Council member Liz Stone said she felt the government has an obligation to protect citizens economically as well as regarding health.
She said sending the letter would show support for local businesses. “We’re not demanding anything. We’re just requesting that (Walz) please give us some consideration, because we aren’t like the Metro.”
After approximately 35 minutes of discussion, Conway moved to authorize City Administrator Ryan Mathisrud to draft a fresh letter on behalf of the city, for Utke to deliver to Walz over Mayor Ryan Leckner’s signature.
The final letter reminds Walz that Hubbard County’s population seasonally varies from 15,000 to more than 60,000 residents, and so the economy is “exceedingly fragile” and dependent on summer tourism.
It asks Walz to understand this and provide “some stronger guidance about when we can anticipate being able to reopen, under the conditions necessary to minimize the risk to public health, so that we can market, schedule and prepare for our seasonal economies.”
At the council’s request, Mathisrud also re-drafted the resolution to accompany the letter, customizing it according to city council guidance.
The resolution asks Walz to consider recalling his March 27 order closing bars, restaurants and other businesses and to allow them to re-open under state and federal guidelines for social distancing and safety.
To see the full text of the council’s letter and resolution, read the online version of this story at parkrapidsenterprise.com.
For the full text of the council’s letter and resolution, see below.
PR Letter to Gov. Walz by inforumdocs on Scribd
Res. Authorizing Letter to ... by inforumdocs on Scribd