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Grand plans for DL have people talking

Last week RDG Planning and Design presented city officials with a rough plan for the redevelopment area, North Washington Avenue and West Lake Drive.

It included ideas filled with green space, a parking ramp and the possibility of turning the newly refurbished County Market/St. Mary's dialysis building into a town square of green space.

Although plans were grand and beautiful, they also brought some speculation from Detroit Lakes Development Authority members and the general public.

Not only was surprise expressed at the DLDA meeting about taking down the St. Mary's Regional Health Center dialysis building, other members of the public expressed dismay at the idea of tearing down a building the public had just given donations to renew.

St. Mary's CEO and President Tom Thompson said he was surprised with the plans as well, but that doesn't mean they should be ruled out quite yet either.

"I was a bit surprised to see RDG's initial idea's impact on properties we own, but our organization obviously wasn't the only business or private entity affected by these ideas," he said. "We have to keep in mind that RDG's job is to dream big and create an optimum gateway plan. Once drafted, then the real work begins of determining what's feasible, what's not, and everything in between."

It's those big dreams and feasibility that have some questioning the ideas, though.

In online comments after the Sunday Tribune story ran that stated some of the consultant company's ideas, people posted comments about hiring consultants to tell the city it needs green space, something citizens have been mentioning for quite some time.

"You've got to be kidding," posts one Detroit Lakes resident. "Just as the last bit of green space in downtown gets snapped up for a courthouse addition, the city is actually paying a consultant to tell us we need green space?"

"Lots of ideas .... a number of which sound good. Unfortunately, they all cost money," another Detroit Lakes resident posted.

Other comments expressed dismay at the proposal of a two-level parking ramp after just going through the debate with the county over tearing down the Berean Baptist Church for additional parking at the courthouse rather than building aforementioned parking ramp behind the Washington Square Mall parking lot.

"Wow! What a novel idea. Instead of razing a residential neighborhood, the people from RDG are entertaining ideas that would solve some problems long-term," one post said. "RDG seems to have some INTELLIGENT visions for the future of our DL community."

Although maybe all the grand ideas won't be able to be put to use, some aren't that far off.

"St. Mary's and Innovis Health are very excited at the timing of these plans with our vision for growth on our campus. It's a wonderful opportunity," Thompson said. "While I was surprised by these initial plans, I don't believe it would be appropriate to take any opportunities off the table without full discussion."

To see the plans, visit