Speakers frustrated over lack of information

GRANITE FALLS — A lack of communication seemed to be one of the issues that came up at a meeting about the proposed land transfer of the Upper Sioux Agency State Park.

Members of the public had questions about how to stay informed, and some voiced frustrations about how the proposed land transfer was being handled.

“This meeting right here should have came first,” one audience member said.

However, audience members weren’t the only ones who said they didn’t know bills for the land transfer of the park would be moving forward at the Legislature this spring.

“I just found out about this about less than a month ago, and so that’s one of the reasons we decided to have this meeting,” said state Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls.

Dahms said he had not publicly stated where he stood on the land transfer proposal yet.

“I want to find out all the details,” he said.

Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, said he and Dahms were “picking up sticks” after the bills moved forward.

Upper Sioux Community Tribal Chairman Kevin Jensvold said that the Community’s request for the park land transfer was something that they had tried to contact area legislators about. Jensvold said the Upper Sioux Community approached Swedzinski last year about sponsoring a bill.

“We also attempted to contact Senator Dahms and we were unsuccessful,” he said.

“We did make the outreach to the senator as well as the representative. And if that’s not adequate enough, I don’t know what more we could have done,” Jensvold said. “We were the ones who put this forth for 18 years.”

“Just to clarify, when I was approached by Chairman Jensvold, I didn’t carry the bill,” Swedzinski said.

The bills were authored by legislators from other parts of Minnesota.

“I told Kevin, I said you know, if your own legislator who represents you in the state Legislature, who I believe we have a good relationship with, as the bill is written isn’t willing to carry it — that should be a red flag,” Swedzinski said. “Because I don’t think all the T’s have been crossed and the I’s have been dotted.”

“When Representative Swedzinski stated to me that, you know, it’s a red flag if he wasn’t willing to carry it, I felt a little saddened,” Jensvold said. “I thought that the Upper Sioux’s argument had merit, and I truly believe that it was a good thing to do.”

Later in the meeting, Yellow Medicine County Commissioner John Berends said that if the land transfer was moving forward, members of the public needed to work to help ensure that replacement recreational land was in the Granite Falls area.

“This is something that we really need to come together on,” he said.


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