Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson’s decision to refer city funding on the Badlands Activities Center to a November vote of the people simply put was the right decision. His decision was based on the size of the project and what the community communicated with the defeat of Ordinance No. 1351 on June 10. The ordinance defeated in a close vote was to authorize the one-half percent sales tax receipts to be used for capital improvements to enhance the social and economic vitality of Dickinson and the region. We support the mayor’s decision Monday night, not because we at the paper believe that the ordinance shouldn’t have passed. We urged voters to vote yes on Ordinance No. 1351 back on June 4, but Mayor Johnson’s decision to have the people vote to authorize city tax dollars for the BAC makes the issue a simple vote. Voters no longer have to decide how much power they want to relinquish to their local officials, in many ways that was accomplished back in June. This vote will be rather on whether or not we as a community support using our tax dollars on construction of the Badlands Activities Center.
There will be many who argue that the BAC is a non-essential project that shouldn’t be funded by tax dollars, and those who argue that this project is essential to the long-term future of our area.
There are some things that we think both sides can agree on. Whitney Stadium has serious structural problems that will not get better on its own, and will continue to deteriorate. The facility is used by tens of thousands area residents annually. Like it or not the current condition of Whitney Stadium is a reflection of our community and Dickinson State University. Good or bad the people who use the stadium form an opinion of Dickinson State University and our community.
During the next three months there will be plenty of discussion and campaigning on the merits of the project from both sides. We at the newspaper hope that the focus of discussion is based purely on the merit of this project. Mayor Johnson’s decision Monday night puts the responsibility of what to do with Whitney Stadium and support of the Badlands Activities Center to the voters of Dickinson.