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Support Hwy. 212 expansion - Our view: ‘If we do not grow, we will perish’

Several years after he left the Minnesota House of Representatives, the late K.J. McDonald, said of his hometown back in 2006, If we do not grow, we will perish.
At the time, McDonald was mayor of Watertown, a community in northern Carver County slightly smaller but every bit as conservative as Glencoe. There were many people in McDonald’s community in no hurry to endure rapid growth. They expected growth would initially bring more residents to the community, people who would expect more services from their city and school district. Since residential property doesn’t generate in property taxes to pay its way, those additional services would eventually increase the tax burden residential and commercial property owners face.
Sounds like a perfectly good reason to oppose rapid growth.
But McDonald, a wise stalwart member of the GOP, also knew his hometown needed an infusion of new blood, homeowners and businesses drawn to a growing community. He knew more residents would trigger the cost of growth – more police officers, more streets and public works staff, eventual expansion of schools, and so on.
We do not doubt there are people who’d rather see Glencoe remain a small city along Highway 212. They rightfully anticipate the cost of growth. But for better or worse, the days of Glencoe being a small community with several grocery stores, hardware stores, and other tenants of a small, free-standing town are predominantly in the rearview mirror. The west metro area is just too accessible.
Last week, we learned the federal government had added another $7 million to the pot of funding for the first phase of a $46 million expansion of Highway 212 from two lanes to four lanes, a five or six mile stretch between Carver and Cologne to Glencoe’s east. The project is expected to begin in a few years.
There is still the anticipated $53 million expansion of five miles of Highway 212 between Cologne and Norwood Young America to fund and complete. An application to the federal government for some funding for the second phase is in the works, according to Lyndon Robjent, Carver County Public Works director. Minnesota Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, and Minnesota Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, also support the expansion of Highway 212.
If Glencoe doesn’t grow, will the community welcome new businesses in its downtown? Probably not. Will families want to move to a stagnant community? Will the community enjoy a growing tax base able to support at least a portion of infrastructure costs? Would MnDOT worry about the state of highways 212 and 22 in town? Why would it?
As long as it’s managed properly, growth is not a bad thing. There are many communities where growth occurred too quickly. City leaders here can use those communities and their mistakes as lessons on growth management.
Glencoe has the luxury of time regarding expansion of Highway 212 and the growth it will bring. We’re confident the community will use the time to prepare wisely.
- jm