Highland Park continues theater discussion, weighs budget at meeting
The Highland Park Committee of the Whole held its regular meeting on Oct. 26.
The committee continued to deliberate on the future of the Highland Park theater. Earlier this fall, the city circulated a survey asking residents to rank five proposals for the space. More than 350 residents responded, with 61 percent providing a favorable or very favorable overall score to a proposal for a year-round indoor market that would focus on local foods and other artisan goods. Community Development Director Joel Fontane presented this information to the committee. The survey results were presented to the Highland Park City Council at its meeting later in the evening.
A few residents voiced their concerns with the direction of the development. Resident Rick Heineman thought the survey was presented in a way that didn't give residents an opportunity to accurately respond, while Gerry Meister was concerned the proposed plan wouldn't yield enough tax revenue for the schools.
Meister also asked the board to issue a timeline for making a decision on the development plan and suggested forming a community group independent of the board to handle the decision-making process.
Mayor Nancy Rotering said the discussion of what to do with the theater would continue at future Committee of the Whole meetings.
The city also considered its budget prospects for 2016 amid continued uncertainty from the state's budget impasse. City Manager Ghida Neukirch said that if the state either makes a drastic cut to its local government fund or continues to delay in making a decision about it, it could change the calculations the city has already made for next year's budget, and the city would need to put 2016 projects on hold until the city can assess its finances.
The city expects to approve its proposed budget Nov. 30.