Onward and Upward
Kasson’s comprehensive city plan workshop offered a tempting spin on a vintage TV game- show: Who Wants To Spend A Million Dollars?
Given free reign to help design the city’s future, some 40 visitors, broken into nine teams, dug in and did just that on Monopoly- style “game boards” during the event July 25 at Kasson- Mantorville High School. Your thoughts, please, on Zoning, Parks and Recreation, Housing, Transportation, Jobs, Business Development – all kinds of areas, to provide feedback and vision for city leaders and consultants.
It’s called Kasson Upward 2040. You’ve got an hour.
“I thought we were just going to be presented with a lot of information. So I was a little resistant at first,” said Marlo Bungum, owner of Just Like Home Child Care in Kasson. “But once we got going, it was a neat process. It was fun to meet some new people and have conversation with some people who have di erent investments and di erent interests in the community. I also found it interesting, just listening to some of the other ‘a-ha moments’ and responses. I think they might find that there’s quite a bit of continuity between the groups.”
“I think the big surprise was how some folks came in and said, ‘Hey, I don’t want to participate. I’m just here to watch,’” Mayor Chris McKern said. “But they ended up getting really involved and taking notes and participating in the conversations. So it was good to see that they engaged, and got some good feedback.”
The groups also included city councilors, City Administrator Theresa Coleman, and K-M Schools Superintendent Mark Matuska.
Each team had an hour to provide thoughts on the many subjects concerning the city. Then the members regrouped and shared what they learned.
Hot topics included dealing with increased traffic, more access to Highway 14, and what Kasson’s “small-town character” features and should feature.
City engineer Brandon Theobald, of WHKS and Company, Rochester-based engineering consultants, said he was surprised by the many thoughts on redeveloping existing structures. It’s a topic to be considered, he said, as the comprehensive plan is nalized.
“It’s a changing community,” Theobald said. “It’s going to be changing for the next few years, until we get to the 2040 plan, so I think it’ll be good. It’s not that far off , and the planning we do now is going to be reflected over that many years. It’s good now to get a plan in place, to get the amenities and what-not that the city and citizens are looking for. Now’s the time to plan for it, so we can implement it and move forward.”
The exercise was directed by Brad Scheib, vice president/ senior planner for Hoisington Koegler Group, Inc., a landscape/ architectural planning rm in Minneapolis.
Hoisington Koegler entered into a contract with the city on March 8 to establish the comprehensive plan – the city’s first since 2011.
Scheib said the workshop discussion was good and energetic, and, although participants respectfully disagreed on some things, the message was consistent.
“I’m sure people will be very anxious to hear the reporting out,” he said. “I’m anxious to pull all of this information together, along with all the online input, and see what it’s telling us, where it might lead us.”
“We need community input for the plan,” McKern said. “It’s not the mayor’s plan or the council’s plan. It’s the community plan, so we want the community to be setting the bar.”