The City of Redwood Falls can be found on a map in North America, and more specifically in the United States, in Minnesota and in Redwood County. Finding the city geographically is relatively easy, especially when one knows where they are looking. Leaders for the City of Redwood Falls are trying to determine where Redwood Falls is in a different sense over the next several months, through an effort known as a comprehensive plan. Creating a plan requires those developing it to know where the city is in various areas, such as demographics, infrastructure and amenities, in order to help the city determine where it is going. So, where is Redwood Falls? That is the question posed this past Thursday afternoon when a public kickoff meeting was held at the Redwood Area Community Center. The people who showed up could express their thoughts on topics such as land use, housing, recreation and economic development. The intent is to compile all of the input that has been gathered and to create a plan that the city can use as a guide for future planning. According to Amanda Prosser of ISG, which is leading the comprehensive plan project, the city last conducted a plan of this nature in 1995. Now 20 years later the city’s leadership felt the time had come to update that plan. After all, the city is not the same as it was 22 years ago. Prosser, who is coordinating the comprehensive plan process, said leaders use a comprehensive plan for everything from setting policy to establishing priorities and strategies for the future. The plan is intended to look forward to the year 2035. Prosser led a formal presentation of the process Jan. 26 at the RACC and shared that ISG is working with city leaders, as well as a 13-member comprehensive plan committee made up of city and community leaders, who will serve as a guide offering input on the plan as each step unfolds. According to information provided during the presentation, Red-wood Falls has seen a decline in its population over the past 15 years, and the median age has risen from 40 to 45 over that same time frame. The median income is just over $40,000, and its most significant industries are health care, manufacturing and retail trade. Demographic information, which likely did not come as a surprise to those in attendance at the meeting Thursday, is being used to help set the framework for the comprehensive plan, as it determines who is here, why they are here and what it will take to keep them in, as well as bring others to, the community. Prosser said a survey has been created to allow the public a chance to share their input on the process. That survey can be found on the City of Redwood Falls Web site. That survey is available through February. Prosser said it is important for as many people as possible to fill out the survey to get a good picture of the city and to determine what people are looking for as the city moves forward over the next two decades. Some of the input that has been received already is starting to help determine which direction the comprehensive plan may take, but Prosser said additional thoughts and ideas will help to determine the final path of the plan.
A few of the topics already suggested include:
• Expanding the trail system
• Maintaining the current road system, including the trunk highways
• Strengthening the EDA
• Retaining and attracting young people • Making the lake project a priority
• Addressing housing challenges
• Finding a solution to the childcare demand
Prosser added those who have provided input have shared there are a lot of great things in the community, such as the school system and the community center, and it is important to make sure those things continue to be a focus as the plan proceeds. Over the next several months, different topics are going to be discussed, and the public can keep an eye on what is going on month by month on the city’s Web site at www.ci.redwood-falls.mn.us and visiting the comp plan link.
“The process is going to be fast paced,” said Prosser. “Our plan is to have the draft plan done in June.”
The public is encouraged to get involved in the process to help provide a community vision for the future of Redwood Falls.