Creating a plan for the future

By Per Peterson

Growing Tracy certainly won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

That’s the mindset of Tracy EDA Director Jeff Carpenter, who along with City Administrator Erik Hansen and the Tracy City Council has been working to formulate a plan that will serve as the foundation to building a brighter future on various fronts.

But it won’t be easy. And it will cost money.

“We just can’t go overboard in any one spot,” Carpenter said. “The city council has set what they want with their priorities, now we’ve gotta look at their priorities and decide what are we gonna be able to do.”

Hansen said his personal goal as a new city administrator was to help the city council create direction and goals for the city, including infrastructure, housing and a marketing plan.

“All of that is really about how do you move the city forward?” he said. “How do you create a vision for where we’re going as a community.

Can you say that one of them is more important than the other? No, I don’t think so, because if you don’t do all of that you’re not going to be able to move the city forward.”

Hansen said the community needs to identify what it wants to look like and what it wants to be in five, 10, 20 years. Hansen said he has heard from a lot of people who “remember the way it used to be,” especially regarding the downtown area. But Tracy ultimately is in the same boat as most other small towns that have seen their downtowns become depleted over the last 50 years.

“We have to figure out how to adjust as a community so we can continue to grow,” Hansen said. “That’s what I think the city council is trying to accomplish.”

The conundrum Carpenter, Hansen and all city leaders face is many-fold: What has to come first? Can it all be done at once? Is it all feasible?

“You can spend a lot of time trying to wrap your head around that conundrum, but at the end of the day you have to do all of it,” said Hansen. “We have to market the city in order to have people come here, we also have to have something to market.”

That said, Hansen believes Tracy does have plenty to market right now — things like a hospital, low-cost housing relative to places like the Twin Cities or Sioux Falls, a strong school system and a good park system. He said entities such as those are where the city must start in its marketing plan and build on in the future.

“We have things to offer people — there’s no doubt about that — and as time goes on we’re going to be able to add more,” Hansen said.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.