The Free Press, Mankato, MN

May 21, 2013

N. Kato seeking consultants for major plan

By Dan Linehan

---- — The North Mankato City Council set the stage for two long-term plans Monday night, one for economic development and the other a comprehensive plan.

The council voted to ask consultants to send in proposals for the comprehensive plan, and took a more direct route with the smaller economic development plan by choosing a consultant, St. Paul-based Springsted. Both votes were unanimous.

“That’s something we’ve been discussing for a long time so I’m glad we’re getting this under way,” Mayor Mark Dehen said of the comprehensive plan.

That plan will, according to the city’s description of the work it’s asking for, “describe the desired future for the community over the next 20 years and establish goals to move toward that future.”

The plan will provide a vision for virtually every aspect of the city’s public policy, including parks, streets, land use and downtown redevelopment.

It’s hard to estimate how much this study will cost, City Planner Mike Fischer said. The city has already budgeted $8,340 in federal money toward it.

The council also approved a five-person committee to interview prospective consultants. It will include the city administrator, the city planner, a citizen and one person apiece from the City Council and planning commission.

Proposals are due back on June 28, at which time interviews would begin. The City Council is slated to see a recommendation on the winning consultant Aug. 5.

The council briefly wielded their red pens as a few members suggested minor changes to the scope of work, though none changed the substance of the project.

Separately, the council approved a $5,500 plan to take a detailed look at its economic development policies.

Springsted will tell the council how other cities subsidize economic development, and have a discussion about how far North Mankato wants to go to encourage private development.

“You have to plow the road ... but you don’t have to do economic development,” said Tony Schertler, a senior vice president at Springsted. “You really have to be comfortable with the role you want to play in economic development as you move forward.”