Monday, September 13, 2004

Where History and Progress Meet

In an attempt to capitalize on potential tourism business, members of the community in St. Peter have designed and created what is now known as “The Pearly Gates” (see appendix for picture). It is the hope that this work of art will attract people to St. Peter such as the statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox did for Brainerd. Community leaders want people to think of St. Peter when they think of the Pearly Gates and vice-versa.
The idea of the Pearly Gates came about during a Chamber of Commerce meeting. Attendants of the meeting were discussing how to create and identity for St. Peter and capitalize on its current positive image. One idea was to create a tourist attraction that when people think of this attraction, they will immediately think St. Peter. Paul Dumdei of First State Bank of St. Peter created the actual idea of the Pearly Gates. During the discussion at the Chamber of Commerce meeting, he began sketching an idea of a large gate on a napkin. Initial reaction to the idea was apprehensive. However, with time, the idea began to gain support. Larry Haugen, President of the Chamber of Commerce, says the idea gained support due in part to the notion that there is no dumb or bad idea. Haugen also says that although the idea of the pearly gates may seem “nutty,” “nutty things” attract people. In the end, Dumdei purchased the Pearly Gates from a manufacturing company in Mexico. Today, the structures await installation and are currently stored at the Public Works Department in St. Peter.
Many different individuals and groups within the community and surrounding area are working collaboratively to complete the project. RW Carlstrom, a local construction company based in Mankato, will be the general contractor installing the gates. The company will be doing all installation including foundation and masonry work on the pillars that will hold the gates. Some donation of time of labor is expected from the company. Brian Grey of Volp Electric will be donating lighting and other electrical components as well as time of labor. KRBI Radio, a new up and coming station in the St. Peter, will be making monetary donations as well as airtime to promote the project. The two major groups involved in the project working collaboratively are the City of St. Peter and the Chamber of Commerce. They city currently stores the gates until installations and recently finished painting the metal gates the pearly color. The Chamber of Commerce is in charge of heading up public relations for the project. They are currently making brochures and other types of print and electronic media. Some of the newspapers they are working with are the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Washington Post, and the Wall St. Journal. The Chamber is also working on making various souvenirs with the slogan “I visited the St. Peter Pearly Gates” including t-shirts and mugs.
Another way that the City and Chamber of Commerce are working collaboratively is in finding a location for the gates. One possible location is near the intersection of Highways 99 and 169. This is a high visibility location that is also close to the Chamber of Commerce. It is the Chamber’s hope that people stopping to see the Pearly Gates will also stop into the Chamber to get some tourism information. The Pearly Gates are expected to get people to stop and bring people to spend money within the city. One negative characteristic of the site is that it will make for a tight fit and is also somewhat less visible compared to other possible locations. Another site that could capitalize on Highway 169, the most heavily used area of the city, is Minnesota Square Park. This park is located right on Highway 169 and just down the hill from Gustavus Adolphus College. This is also site of many community events. However, the Chamber of Commerce is concerned with the amount of daily usage, and prefers the first site. A final location with less support is the intersection of Highways 22 and 169. The concern with this site is its proximity to businesses and access. The city and Chamber are working hard to decide the site with the maximum impact, which is tentatively planned for the Highways 99 and 169 intersection site with a possible April 15, 2004 groundbreaking. This project is a great example of how a potential piece of physical capital can bring the community together in a positive way and create many networks of social capital."


EdWonk said...

Dating Ana Marie Cox (aka Wonkette) could be fun! Or would it be snarky fun?

Scooter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Scooter said...

Interesting - I wonder how someone finds you just because you click next blog into their blog - it'd creepy in a cyberstalker way if I didn't work for a website and get to see what people post all the time. At least he appreciates Ana Marie...yum.