Today’s conversations with the general public of Mason City was filled with comments from several buyers and sellers who were a bit heated over what they believe is the abuse of the State of Iowa’s and our Federal Government’s programs to help the needy. One of buyers who is from southern Minnesota spoke about how he and his seven brothers and two sisters had to work odd jobs as well as work for area farmers in the fields to help with the expenses at home. He said his parents would never have considered asking for handouts from the government. He said they just learned to watch their expenses and made do with what they had. He said he was even a bit thankful that he came from a family that had to make sacrifices because it helped him to learn and adapt. Getting to know him more now that I have been showing him houses, I can say he really is a worker and knows much about construction. He is about 45 years old and at a glance you would think him ten years younger because instead of exercising like so many people do now, he actually works a very physical job.
When he was telling me his story, I couldn’t help but think back to several years ago when I sold a duplex that had Section 8 tenants in it. It was an older converted home that was what I would consider in minimal condition at best. Both units were not sanitary. There were multiple cats running around as well as bags of garbage that should have been taken to the curb for removal. One of the tenants who was likely in his late 20′s asked me, “I hope the new buyer doesn’t kick me out and then I will possibly loose my Section 8 money.” What I was the most shocked about was his next comment. He said, “I love HUD, I don’t know what I would do without it.” It made me sad. To think that there are people living in the USA that believe the entitlement programs are a sort of Deus Ex Machina for anyone who has a bump in the road in the job of living. Like someone once said, “Don’t give anyone fish, but rather give them a fishing pole so that they can learn to fish for themselves.” My vote goes for those that believe in self sustainability. For me, anytime I do something that is above and beyond what is expected of me in society, it gives me a greater feeling of self worth. I have always believed that the world doesn’t owe us, but rather we owe the world.
We the residents of Mason City are approaching the point of being at what the sci-fi would believe to be the War of the Worlds.
At one side are the nay-sayers who believe that all is good and nothing needs to be changed. On the other side, there are those that can see past the blinders that our community of Mason City and North Iowa have set in place. I am becoming more vocal about this in a positive sense because Holtz Realty have been a part of downtown Mason City for over 70 years. Just yesterday I was showing homes to an extended family from Rochester Minnesota and they were asking me about the growth of Mason City. Believe me, they have already done their on-line research. I told them that based on our last census, we are just holding our own. I almost said to the matriarch of that family, “We would be the same size or bigger if we didn’t have the nay-sayers in our community for so many years.” I have to be diplomatic in my profession.
When I spoke with the Mayor of Mason City, Eric Bookmeyer today, I told him that there needs to be more flexibility from City Hall if we are going to create real Business in our city. Too many people in our local, state and federal government are so afraid that they will loose their jobs if they make a “not-by-the-book judgement call”. These people have absolutely no vision. We should never ride by the seat of our pants, but rather true long term judgements. Let’s drive real business here rather than away.
Remember, I spoke earlier in an article that Mason City should have been and should be the “Hub of North Iowa and Southern Minnesota.
Many hands and minds make little work!
If anyone who works in downtown Mason City would just become more aware of their surroundings as they are going to and from their workplace, they would notice as I have, the opposing forces that are forming in the Business District of Mason City. Too many times one will notice people who seem “out of place” on the sidewalks as well as street walkers who seem to make a daily habit of traversing the same street three, four and five times a day.
As the warmer weather approaches, I look forward to the visitors of the Park Inn Hotel out walking the streets taking pictures and admiring the historic buildings of downtown Mason City. I will never forget what happened late last summer. There were three people casually walking past my building in the afternoon when suddenly they stopped. The likely loving couple of the three, stepped into the alcove of my storefront and started smooching while the 3rd gentleman took a picture of the loving couple. Because the reflections of the windows in my office at that time of day, they didn’t even see me watching them. Oh how charming they looked!
I would love to see more and more visitors from all corners of the United States coming here to enjoy the walking tours, the entertainment, the natural beauty, and above all, the welcoming nature of the business owners in the Historic Business District of Mason City.
I am seem overly proud of our Downtown Mason City, but I can see great growth and continued development as long as we do NOT have opposing forces. Let’s not allow anyone to pull us down. We must work to continue to build up, and up, and up. Remember, only the sky is the limit.
For years and years I have said that Mason City missed the boat on being the center of the financial/commercial universe in North Iowa and Southern Minnesota.
Let’s think about it. We are about 2 hours by car from Des Moines, about 2 hours by car from Minneapolis, and now thanks to the Avenue of the Saints, we are about 2 ½ hours from Cedar Rapids and not to mention the far quicker drive to Dubuque and other river towns and cities. So why are we not the size of Rochester or even bigger? There has been much debate I’m sure behind closed doors. My take on this as a Realtor has been that we do not take an active step in keeping Mason City presentable. First impressions are lasting impressions.
Over the course of my years in real estate, I have sold enough homes to people coming from far away due to job opportunities. During the purchase process, the buyers sooner or later share with me their initial negative perceptions upon their initial arrival. And for me, that created an uphill battle in getting them comfortable with the city.
We as the residents of Mason City can create the most beautiful civic improvements but what I bristle about, is the maintaing of those improvements. If we as a community and residents of Mason City don’t take a stand on what we will tolerate and not tolerate, then we will become yet another pass over city that is blighted with discord, neglect, and apathy.
One thing I must mention here on a positive side. I have a client/customer who was a high ranking officer in the Air Force and lived in more countries and cities that we could only dream about. She told me more that once that the reason she loved Mason City is because we have the most beautiful three seasons she has ever seen in the world. And about the fourth season here, she said, “Well, every rose must have it’s thorns.”
And don’t forget, we are the Music Man Capital of the United States!
It looks like there will be a City Ordinance on it’s way to becoming a reality. Seems as though there are mixed feelings about how well it will be enforced and who is ultimately responsible. Will it be the owner of the property or the occupant? Scraping away the negativity leaves us with some real positive prospects. What about creating neighborhood awards for their clean-up efforts? Could there also be an incentive for tenants and owners to work together
to keep a property looking it’s best? Perhaps the city could provide additional days of curbside pick of unwanted items. Maybe we could even have a designated site to drop off unwanted tires and appliances; you know the stuff that you have to pay extra for to get rid of. Lets keep the positive ideas flowing in!