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Published February 13 2013

Forum editorial: A balanced Bluestem committee

Before the Moorhead City Council approves the structure of a Bluestem Facility Communications and Advisory Committee, council members should take a look at the proposed membership categories, as OK’d this week by the Fargo School Board. The committee is the brainchild of school board member John Strand. It’s very good idea, given the cross-river squabbling that has characterized discussion about the future of Bluestem/

Trollwood. But the makeup of the committee is crucial if a working agreement that is fair to all stakeholders is to be achieved. That won’t happen if the same cast of characters merely lobs verbal grenades across a table rather than across the river.

Committee members would represent the Moorhead City Council (2) and the Fargo School District (2). Moorhead’s city manager and Fargo’s school superintendent would be members, as would the director of the Trollwood Performing Arts School, the primary summer tenant of the Bluestem complex in south Moorhead. Two at-large members would represent arts organizations, one selected by Moorhead’s mayor, one selected by the president of the Fargo School Board.

It’s a good plan, but special attention should be given to the two at-large appointments. The panel is heavy on representation from the involved local governments. And whether the director of the Trollwood program should be at the table might require another look. There might be a better way to represent Trollwood. One of the two “arts organization” slots might be filled with a representative Trollwood parent; the other with someone who can speak for long-time benefactors and supporters of Trollwood and the Bluestem vision.

The committee will be “advisory,” not a voting group. It will not have any direct control of Trollwood operations. However, the committee’s advice must carry clout. If serious people are tapped to serve, they should demand that their advice will be integrated into a long-term management solution for Bluestem/Trollwood. If expectations are anything less, they might as well stay home.

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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.