by Jeff Wilfahrt
Jun 23, 2014, 4:52 PM

Get more from UMore – A UofM tragedy unfolds

With all the hubbub around Polymet the University of Minnesota is quietly pulling a fast one on the state and specifically on the city of Rosemount.

It’s the UMore Park sustainable living project.

A short background. During the ’40s as WWII raged a large block of land, ~5,000 acres or so, were taken by eminent domain. Families were given less than three weeks to vacate the land. Three gun powder lines were built. Lines A & B were in production with C set to come online. Naturally the Navy and Army didn’t use the same gun powder hence multiple manufacturing lines. Anyways with the war winding down the site was shut down and eventually the buildings torn down.

The UofM was the beneficiary. They got the land for a song.

And the U actually put it to good use as an agricultural research center. But that is the past, Monsanto is the big kid now in Agriculture and the monoculture genetically and dominantly there own. Not much left to research since the fall of the family farm.

So here’s a beautiful, largely flat, acreage of land and we’re gonna’ do what with it?

Well, first the U will take the sand, the area being the esker of the Wisconsin glaciation, and next the frac sand under laying it. Okay, the U is not taking it, just selling it off to a mining firm who gobbled up what is now Apple Valley. Make no mistake, the metro area needs sand and gravel for all of our roads… but the fracking issue, gonna’ be some mad residents as the truck count escalates.

Subsequently the U wants to drop tens of thousands of new residents into what is currently the Rosemount population. The sub city will be a sustainable environment. Now who could be against that… well if any reader remembers Jonathan out Eden Prairie way the truth of the end game should jump out.

It’s sort of sad really. A large block of land, nominally ideal for more research, say in solar, or wind or even remaining agricultural is about to be lost, or maybe already has been.

The City Council is drooling like any Republican dominated council would at the prospect of the money running. No real sagacity here or long range vision, just short term stuff like “hey, take the money and run.”

Not being a well connected guy I can say that an informed insider at the U has told me Rosemount has already been snookered by the U lawyers and it will only get worse as time goes on. Of course the council here thinks they’re doing great things and getting the best possible deal. I doubt they’ve come to terms with the legal strings of a land grant college. But hey, they’re not lawyers and they smell money.

The U no longer seems to be in the research business. We once had an incredible school of mines here. Gone now. Ergo Polymet is the big voice today. We once had an incredible agricultural program at the St. Paul campus known as the cow college. Not much need to for that anymore either it seems.

In fact the state got snookered once before out here when the U traded land for the southern end of the UMore Park so the TCF stadium could be built. The real winners in that deal were the gun club(s) located on the state land who to my knowledge are grandfathered in, probably in perpetuity.

If you took any lab classes at the U your lab waste was probably buried out here on the UMore Park land. Some of that was cleaned up back in the ’80s when Koch (now Flint Hills) and the U came under some real scrutiny over ground water pollution.

Once the sustainable community is built gone is the prospect of research for the broader society. There just aren’t that many large tracts of land around anymore, and certainly not this close to the metro area. Hell, at one time they wanted to relocate the airport out here and that is how we came to get the ‘new’ north south runway at MSP. Oh the Pawlenty years, don’t we all miss them.

As to whether it is research to build a sustainable community… well wouldn’t you think food and energy would be more fundamental at this point in time and longer range in terms of impact.

Nope, this tragedy is flying under the radar. Small town politicians getting suckered, the good people of MN losing a fantastic research site for the good of all mankind, and in the end, it is money getting what money wants.

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