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Resolve to contribute to the future of your town

The beauty of living in a small town is that residents actually can affect change if they're willing to make an effort and be proactive, rather than reactive.

The beauty of living in a small town is that residents actually can affect change if they're willing to make an effort and be proactive, rather than reactive.

Reactive would be complaining after a law is passed, a conditional use permit granted or ground broken for the latest business expansion.

Proactive, on the other hand, means getting involved as soon as possible. It can be less dramatic - after all, it's difficult to rally people to march against a vague proposal written up in a council agenda - but in the case of local government, it's usually far more effective.

The city of Cloquet's proposed Parks Master Plan is the perfect opportunity for interested citizens of all ages to get involved in planning for the future. A consulting company with experience in formulating long-range plans of this sort has been hired, they've met with city staff and now they're hoping to get lots of community input.

For those who want to take baby steps, this is a chance to make your voice heard. Share your thoughts at a community meeting, email your city councilor, and keep track of progress on the city's website and in this newspaper.

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For those wanting and willing to donate a significant chunk of time and effort to the cause, city officials are looking for approximately 15 community members to serve on a task force and more to serve on subcommittees working with that task force.

"The task force would really spearhead the whole thing," City Administrator Brian Fritsinger explained at last week's council meeting. "It would be their job to get the word out, talk to groups, neighbors."

The task force is not for those who are lukewarm about parks or simply looking to pad their resume with minimal effort. Councilor Neil Nemmers stressed that in the same council work session, pointing out that approximately half the people who volunteered to work on the city's Comprehensive Plan several years ago dropped out half way through the process.

As you ponder your New Year's resolutions this weekend, why not consider contributing your time and effort to help shape the future of Cloquet and its many parks, some which sit practically empty and rarely used, others which are practically hidden to anyone not familiar with the area.

The city is tentatively planning the first informational meeting on the parks plan process in late January. People interested in being part of the task force or who want to know more about the parks plan are invited to attend that meeting.

Worse case scenario, you're bored.

Best case scenario? You get involved and feel great satisfaction 20 years in the future explaining to some new-to-town reporter how that particular park got to be such a great place to hang out.

Opinion by Jana Peterson
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