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Looking ahead: Community comment needed for strategic plan

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

What will the City of New Richmond look like in 2021?

Probably not a whole lot different than it looks in 2016, but with the completion of the St. Croix Crossing bridge in 2017 and the speculation that more business and residential development will continue, there will be ever-growing needs within the city that will require important decisions.

That’s where the city needs your help.

If you’ve got three or four minutes to sit down at a computer or call the page up on your phone or tablet, a survey is now available for residents to sound off on a variety of economic and future development questions that will help the city formulate its newest five-year strategic plan.

City Administrator Mike Darrow said this week that an online survey is available for those residents and non-residents who would like to contribute their thoughts about what the future of New Richmond could look like.

“We need feedback from as many people as possible,” Darrow said this week about encouraging the public to participate in the online survey.

“So far it’s been looked at by about 900 people with the … response at around 10 percent,” Darrow said. “It’s just one way to get input from the community, but it’s a really, really important document and it’s best when we get a lot of opinions at the beginning, so the biggest thing is getting the word out there for people to do this for us.”

The last update of the city’s strategic plan was completed in August 2011.

“So what the document does is basically provides a road map for the council as to their goals and objectives for the next five years,” Darrow said.

“Having input from the community helps [the council] to understand what types of decisions are important to the community. The intent is to give us that roadmap for the next five years — whether it’s economic development growth or things like passive/active park lands or capital improvements. There are a set of goals and then a successful strategic plan will provide information on how to go about achieving those goals.”

The 2011 strategic plan lays out the city’s mission statement, provides an organizational history and profile, offers information about the city council and the city departments and what each does for the citizenry.

In addition, the plan outlines specific issues and goals, such as maintaining affordable, effective and essential community services; supporting and encouraging local economic growth and vitality; and improving cultural and natural amenities.

The strategic plan’s action plans in accomplishing those goals are also defined in this document.

As an example, in order to “maintain affordable, effective and essential city services,” it was the city’s goal to cap the debt at 75 percent or lower of equalized value.

Another goal established in 2011 was to maintain the existing annual tax levy over the course of the first two years of the plan and then to provide a 2 percent decrease in the levy over the final three to five years of the plan.

The third ranked goal was to achieve 1 percent of new growth from taxable new construction each year of the five-year plan.

“If what we’re hearing is that people want more parks, then what is our strategy for achieving other goals? The reason we want community input is that it adds value and ownership to the decision,” Darrow said. “So our plan is that the survey is one way to get community input, but there are other means, as well … whether it’s taking the survey to The Deerfield, for example, or taking it to the library or hosting community meetings. In years past we’ve even had a little stand at Fun Fest to get it out there. But a lot of it is just word of mouth so that people vote. It takes about three or four minutes to fill out and it’s really needed.”

In addition to the online portion of the survey, Darrow said city administration will be meeting individually with each council person over the course of the next 30 days to go through their ideas on the plan and where they see things over the next five years.

“Then in August we will bring back the information about what the community has said and start to get into how to go about achieving some of those goals,” Darrow said. “It’s an exciting process and the best plans are the ones that involve a mix of people.”

To access the online survey, visit http://goo.gl/forms/X3mjaLxOyV7W5MF83.

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