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Community Action Plan Holds Open House

Since the month of March, a group of community members from Pine City and the surrounding areas have gathered together in order to put together a Community Action Plan for the City of Pine City.

Breaking from the norm for putting together an annual comprehensive plan, the goal of this project was to allow the people who live, work, or play in Pine City free reign to create a vision for the city to work toward over the coming years.

"These guys came in with their own ideas, their own backgrounds, and their own expertise. We wanted the community to bring these ideas forward. We didn't want it to come from staff, we didn't want it to come from the city council, but we wanted it to come from the community itself. That is what they've done," Pine City Community Development Director Mike Gainor said to WCMP.

Essentially, they were given blank notepads and told to go create.

The group was broken down into six subcommittees where community members really dug into what can be done to improve Pine City: Creating Community, Downtown Revitalization, Community Connectivity, Economic Prosperity, Community Pride, and Quality of Life.

Bob Thompson, who worked on the Economic Prosperity subcommittee, said their initial goal starting out was to bring more jobs to town; however, they soon set their sights on bringing a grocery store and hotel to town.

The group met with brokers and business owners to research what would be the best way to entice those businesses to come to Pine City.

"They were looking for help from the city, and we understand that. You gotta be an advocate to minimize risk," Thompson said.

One of the ideas the group came up with was proposing a land swap between the State of Minnesota and Pine City. Specifically, the area that MnDOT owns near US Bank. Thompson thinks that property can be cleaned up and turned into commercial development.

Addressing the housing shortage was the project that the Creative Community subcommittee attempted to tackle.

"We've got a huge housing shortage," Realtor Loreal Lindstrom. "We need to find a place where folks can live affordably."

One of the ways they would hope to address this issue is by taking advantage of city-owned lots zone for housing and building small communities within them. Lindstrom also proposed using mix use zoned property to house commercial businesses at the street level and studio apartments on the second level.

Other groups looked into how the function and the feel of Pine City can be improved.

"I think I have walked the community enough to understand what positive things have been done with getting pedestrians around the city and finding some areas to continue that goal of creating trails and sidewalks for bikes and pedestrians," said Jim Sloan, who worked on the Community Connectivity subcommittee.

The group is looking to bring better sidewalks and trails for residents or tourists to use, so they can be healthier and explore Pine City easier. Sloan said they took a look at the Blue Zones philosophy that Pine County is considering adopting.

The Quality of Life subcommittee investigated how to improve city parks and other public spaces.

Julie Samuelson said some of the ideas they explored was installing a dog park and archery range near the water tower on the north end of town.

"On top of that, there are docking issues," Samuelson said. "We want more city docking for people to moor their boats, come into the city, use the facilities, and be able to get back on the water again."

Danielle Davis worked with the Community Pride group to plan out a community center that would fit within the old Pamida building in Evergreen Square.

Davis said it has been a joy to work with other community members and city staff on this project because it has allowed them to create freely.

"What I love about it is the leaders have said from the get-go that there is no, 'no'. If 'yes' was the answer to everything, what would you do. Working with community members who are on fire to create new things in this town has been so great."

The CAP committee was facilitated by Todd Streeter, who called this the first phase. To make sure these plans and project ideas come to fruition, an executive committee will need to be formed.

"That will be some members of this committee and some other community members, who want to be good stewards of the future and have some resources at their disposal," said Streeter.

Some involved are already planning to continue meeting in order to work on these projects.

"There is a lot more work to do," said Bob Thompson. "Our group plans to stick together and keep working at this to make one of the projects actually a reality.

The Community Action Plan committee held an open house at the Pizza Pub in Pine City as a precursor to their full presentation. At that event, the committee will be presenting the work each group has done on a fuller scale.

The full presentation will be held on Thursday, July 21, starting a 6:30 p.m. at the Pine City High School Auditorium.

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