Rochester mayor vetoes open gym pilot program proposal

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(ABC 6 News) – Tuesday, Rochester Mayor Kim Norton vetoed a city council proposal that would use 50-thousand dollars to provide open gym time for youth on the weekends as a pilot program.

On May 15, the city council voted 5-1 with one member absent, for the Common Council of the City of Rochester, Minnesota, to authorize the use of up to $50,000 in contingency funds to provide open gym space for 30 weeks in conjunction with Rochester Public Schools (RPS).

Norton saying that the veto is not meant to strike down that proposal, but instead provide more time for research and community engagement.

In a statement, Norton said:

The veto of this CIA was done after considerable thought and I hope is understood not as a judgement about the intent – which I believe is to offer more opportunities for young people in our community which is a value I share – but rather a concern about the use of a CIA for a direct expenditure in a vacuum. Without more discussion about prioritization of community needs, without a more robust community engagement process, without inclusion of youth serving partners, and without weighing priorities as we make budget decisions we can lose our focus and credibility with the community.

This veto will provide the additional time needed to work with community partners to determine need and evaluate space in the community that might be available with less cost and more partnership support. The Parks & Recreation Department should be queried as to whether they are able to provide Recreation Center hours/coverage – that gym appears to be open during the hours suggested in the CIA, but for a different usage, and they had not been approached about making some adjustments to provide space in north Rochester.

This veto will also allow more time for discussion on specific issues that I will share in a subsequent email. It’s possible that taking this extra time will alleviate the need for City contingency fund usage, while still meeting the desired goals.

Rochester Mayor Kim Norton