City of Remsen begins to chart its course for the future

Monday, June 26, 2017
(Sentinel Photo by Thomas Schreiber) At left, Remsen City Councilman Jeremy Bunkers points out areas of interest and concern to SIMPCO Regional Planner Nicole Peterson during a town hall meeting Wednesday, June 21.

REMSEN — The city gymnasium in Remsen was the site for a visioning and town hall meeting from 6-8 p.m., Wednesday, June 21.

The meeting was the opening to an update to the city’s comprehensive plan.

Four main topics were covered: transportation, housing, economic development, and community facilities and parks.

The gathered group of about 25 community members, clustered around four tables, and were asked to craft a vision statement for what their version of an ideal community looked like by SIMPCO Regional Planner Nicole Peterson.

“For the vision statement, there were quite a few votes for strong public safety; strong infrastructure, streets, water and sewer; affordable housing with diverse options; a vibrant downtown; nice community facilities; and for a clean and tidy community,” Peterson said in an interview after the meeting.

The discussion then delved into each of the four topics, and at the end of the meeting, community members were asked to highlight the most important issues to them.

“Under housing, the themes that drew votes were to develop areas for low to moderate income housing; offer housing incentives like tax credits for new home development and rehabilitation of existing homes; and the need for duplexes and triplexes,” Peterson said. “I think affordability and housing availability were two of the top things discussed. Under transportation, the themes that drew votes were Marion Street improvements, improved lighting, a consistent sidewalk ordinance, a strong street system, and a consistent, connected sidewalk and trail network.”

On the subject of economic development, important themes were the need for more restaurants, business retention and support, and discussion of succession plans with existing businesses were highlighted as keys for Remsen’s future.

“Under community facilities, flooding came up as a major issue. A new fire station will be needed soon. Utilities are a very low cost in Remsen so that was a positive,” Peterson said. “There is also a need for a music venue or a gathering place.”

Overall, Peterson said she was pleased with the meeting.

“I was very encouraged by the turnout. I’m happy about the notes and comments that we received and definitely was encouraged by the discussion that happened,” Peterson said. “I think there is networking that happens at public meetings and building that social capital within the town is one of the objectives of holding public forums.”

Peterson will present the results and the findings of the visioning/town hall meeting, and the community survey, at 5:30 p.m., July 12 at the Remsen City Council meeting. The survey will be available until June 28, and can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/Remsen2017. Paper copies are also available at city hall.

“We’ve received over 60 surveys so far so that’s very exciting,” Peterson said. “I’ll be reporting and meeting with the city council once a month through November. At each meeting, I’ll be bringing draft chapters.”

Peterson encouraged citizens to attend council meetings so their input could be added to the plan.

“We will be allowing comments. Also, the draft chapters will be available in council packets,” she said. “The public comment period for the full draft of the plan is anticipated to be October to November, and it will be a minimum of 30 days.”

Community members can also contact Peterson directly at nicole@simpco.org with questions or concerns.

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