Czech & Slovak museum opposes Penford expansion proposal

Officials say expansion would hurt 'visitor experience' at museum

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The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library’s board of directors and staff members oppose Penford Products’ proposal to buy the city’s Riverside Park for possible future expansion, they said in a news release on Monday.

In its statement, museum/library board and staff members said a Penford expansion would hurt the “visitor experience” to the museum.

“We want visitors who might come on a one-time basis to be so impressed that they return and tell their families and friends to come here,” the museum/library said in its news release. “This is how a great destination becomes popular and brings dollars to the city. The proposed expansion of Penford is an incongruent message to present to visitors regarding the importance of their visit and in making our city a welcoming place.”

Any Penford expansion into what is now an 11-acre city park next door to the corn-processing plant would move the industrial operation closer to the museum/library, which itself has moved to a higher location away from the river but closer to Penford since the flood of 2008.

The ramp leading up to the 12th Avenue bridge and the bridge itself would be the chief buffer between the back side of the museum/library and an expanded Penford corn-processing operation.

The City Council is holding a public hearing on the Penford proposal at its meeting on Tuesday, which begins at 4 p.m. at City Hall, 101 First St. SE.

Mayor Ron Corbett on Monday said the City Council expects to take a couple months to sort through the Penford proposal before it takes any vote on it.

Penford held three public meetings last week to explain its possible expansion plans to the community.

No certain plan is in hand, but the company believes it needs the park property so it can show potential partners that it has room to expand, Tim Kortemeyer, Penford’s president and general manager, said last week.

An expansion could add between 20 and 50 workers to the 225 that Penford now employs at the plant.

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