The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 15, 2012

Your View: North Mankato lacks a strategic plan

By Bett Tsaouse, North Mankato

— "If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up someplace else." Yogi Berra said that.

Does North Mankato know where it is going? Does it have a plan for reaching its destination? A proactive strategic plan for the development of the city should include long-term goals and objectives -- a vision if you will. It should address density goals, location of desired businesses, green spaces, transportation, walkability, recreation, architectural design including building heights, potential project financing, etc.

However, North Mankato has no strategic plan. All we have is the "Code" as the "plan" guiding development. Despite the lack of a comprehensive strategic plan, the city council is continuing to move forward on the six-story Marigold 2.5 project. In order for this project to meet the meet "Code" for height restrictions, the council has already approved one variance. However, the project requires multiple additional variances. The Planning Commission has recommended against granting these variances.

It seems wise for the city council to postpone approval of a project involving both long-term commitment of taxpayer dollars as well as multiple variances that are significant deviations from the only "plan" (Code) currently in place. These variances would also have the effect of changing the essential character of the Belgrade business district.

Please join me at the next city council meeting 7 p.m. Monday in urging the council to postpone all decisions on this project until they hire a new administrator and a strategic plan for the entire city is developed with input from the administrator, the council and the residents.

If we do not know where we are going, where are we going to end up?