Dear Jasper City Council and concerned citizens,
As a resident of the Twin Cities, you may not care too much about what I have to say. I seem far removed from Jasper — and it’s true that I have to travel four hours to get there. But like many people, Jasper is as much a part of me as my blood and my breath. I grew up spending holidays and long summer weeks here, visiting my grandparents, the late Norris and Mavis Larson. And now, I come to visit my dad, Randy.
To me, Jasper has been beautiful. It’s a place I want to come to for the history, for the vibe of a small town, and for the small businesses. But let me be clear about one thing — the architecture is something that sets Jasper apart. Any town can have a bar. Any town can have a restaurant, or a museum. But Jasper has Sioux quartzite and over 100 years of history behind these buildings. If you believe in supporting this town’s economy and keeping it a beautiful place that people will want to live in and visit, then you cannot simply waste money on tearing down these historic structures when they can be rehabilitated, because at the same time you are scrapping this beautiful town’s identity.
It can seem overwhelming to try to save a building when it has a crumbling facade, but I urge not only the city council, but also the citizens of Jasper, to learn more from Reclaim Community, which has done an enormous amount of research and work into getting funds and grants to preserve Bauman Hall and Jasper High School. They can also save the Stonewall Bar building — it is possible; it is feasible; it is inevitable if you give them a chance.
I’ll leave you with a parting plea. Do not let the mayor persuade you to demolish these buildings. Do not let these discussions happen behind closed doors. My family had a long history with the Jasper Lanes — it was in our family for more than twenty years — and we did not get a chance to save that business. It was devastating when it was torn down.
Do not let that happen to other businesses and buildings here. Things cannot happen behind closed doors anymore. You have our attention, and we are not backing down.
Thank you for your time.