After extensive consultation and discussion throughout the community, Winona State University has withdrawn its request to the City of Winona to make improvements to Bambenek Field 2.
In approaching this decision, we wanted the consultation process to be broad and inclusive. We wanted to give the citizens of Winona ample opportunity to consider the proposal and provide feedback. The benefits to WSU were always clear, but we also believed strongly in the benefits to the community and hoped the idea would be widely embraced. Our intent was to find a solution that was not only good for the university, but also a resource the whole community could enjoy.
What’s clear from the conversations taking place is that while the idea has many supporters in Winona, support for the proposal is not widespread enough for us to feel this is a win-win scenario for our town. We are very grateful to those who have contributed their time and voiced their support, but we are not interested in succeeding in our goals if a significant number of community members aren’t on board. It’s important to us that we have community support.
Winona State strives to be a good neighbor. We make available the use of our facilities for free to the Great River Shakespeare Festival, the Beethoven Festival, the Frozen River Film Festival, Winona Area Public and Cotter High School athletics, and many other community groups. Our beautiful arboretum, including the Krueger Woods at Garvin Heights, is available for the community to enjoy, and the Cal Fremling floating classroom—although it’s not even one year old yet—has been put to many community uses. Our students contribute 250,000 hours of volunteer work every year in Winona, and our employees give back in countless ways, serving as volunteers, board members and community leaders. We are a member of this community, and I hope our decision demonstrates to you that we are listening closely and responding proactively to feedback.
Our need for a new baseball field still exists. At this time we will reevaluate our options and seek a solution that will provide our student athletes with a safe competition and practice facility and allow us to remain competitive in the NSIC and Division II.
With the upcoming campus master planning process, we will be taking a focused approach to the future development of our campus. In particular, we will concentrate on improving our athletic facilities and our landscape arboretum. Community representatives will be part of our assessment process, and the final plan will be made available to the public. I am confident that we can work together to design a future that is good for Winona and WSU.
Scott R. Olson
Winona State University