The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

August 20, 2013

North Mankato hires planning consultant

WSB work will help guide city policy for decades to come

NORTH MANKATO — A consultancy and design company from Minneapolis will create a comprehensive plan to help guide North Mankato policy for decades to come.

The City Council agreed Monday to hire WSB & Associates at a maximum cost of $28,904. Bolton & Menk will add work on transportation and public utilities for $5,000 more.

Though WSB was the cheapest of the four consultants the city interviewed, it was also the favorite of the interview committee, which was comprised of city officials, councilors and residents.

“These people came out with the most energy, a really nice presentation right off the bat,” Councilman Kim Spears said. “I’m really excited about the possibilities they’re going to bring to our community.”

City Administrator John Harrenstein praised WSB’s “commitment to engaging with the public in this effort.”

The consultant will host and manage a website and a Facebook page about the project until the City Council adopts the plan. Four focus group meetings and two planning meetings are also included in the contract.

The contract also specifies that WSB agrees to review six other planning efforts: North Mankato’s downtown planning study, Envision 2020, the Mankato Area Transportation and Planning Study, Nicollet County’s comprehensive plan, the Greater Mankato Transit Redesign Study and the Benson Park Master Plan.

On Monday, the City Council added Mankato’s City Center Renaissance Plan to that list.

The council also voted to pass along comments to the consultants from Councilman Bob Freyberg, who expressed caution about the downtown planning study. He said it’s biased because it ignores public comment on the topic.

And he suggested Envision 2020 is an old document from which little input should be gleaned.

The study, which begins in September and ends in May, includes every just about every facet of city government except for law enforcement. It includes land use and growth management, housing, economic development, parks and recreation, regional coordination, downtown redevelopment, community design, environmental resources and sustainability, transportation and public utilities.

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