A sense of purpose

Tracy Area Elementary School Principal Michael Munson (foreground) shares some thoughts during last week’s community center meeting at the Tracy Public Library. In the background is Matt Knakmuhs (left) and Tracy Area High School senior Dustin VanDam. Photo / Per Peterson

Committee members share thoughts of what an ideal community center should look like

With the Multi-Purpose Center destined to be transformed into a cafe, a group of residents recently shared ideas of where the City should go from here

By Per Peterson

About a year ago at this time, Swedish meatballs were being served at the Multi-Purpose Center. Last Wednesday, a group of people got together to form a plan to replace what the MPC has offered the community for decades.

A committee representing senior citizens, youth, the school district, the city council and the business community gathered in the basement of the Tracy Public Library to spitball ideas and give opinions on the needs of the community when it comes to a gathering place to fill the void left behind by the sale of the MPC to the owners of the Plaid Moose in Slayton.

The feedback offered by the dozen community members — Tracy Area Elementary Principal Michael Munson, downtown businessemen Jeremy Trulock, Matt Knakmuhs and Mark Seager, students Dustin VanDam and Zach Seager, city councilman George Landuyt, and community members Kris Tiegs, Audrey Koopman, Ken Witt, Becky Averill and Kou Vang — will be used to set a course for a future facility, whether that be an addition to a current building or a brand-new structure.

The overriding theme was the community needs a space that will be versatile and purposeful for people of all ages.

“This is a meeting to brainstorm ideas on what purpose a new facility would serve in the community,” said Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen, who facilitated the meeting along with EDA Director Jeff Carpenter. “Jeff and I would bring (to the city council) some options for spaces that will fulfill that purpose. You, as a committee … will come to a consensus recommendation … as how we will proceed as a group.”

Hansen opened the floor for everyone to speak on three different questions for the committee:

1-In one sentence, what is the purpose of a new facility?

2-What are three adjectives you would use to describe a new facility?

3-What are the three most important elements you would like to see in a new facility?

The focus of the meeting was not to simply replace the MPC for the purpose of giving seniors a place to gather, but to come up with concrete ideas that would serve the entire community. Seniors’ needs have been a hot button issue since it was announced that the MPC would be sold, but the goal last week was more of a look into the future of what the city needs in terms of a gathering place for a multitude of people, not just one segment of the population. The results of the recent community facilities public survey were not factored into last week’s forum.

• For question No. 1, the overriding response was to create a gathering place for all ages and demographics of the community.

“A lot of us are on the same page with this … (we need) a building that fits the needs of different groups,” Trulock said.

Landuyt said it’s important not to conflict with what The Caboose already offers in terms of a gathering place.

“We don’t want to do something that’s gonna step on their toes,” he said.

Witt said it’s important to have a space for seniors to be able to socialize, but having a place that provides activities and events for people of all ages would go a long way to improving foot traffic in the downtown area and revitalizing the area. Witt said a “bold move” needs to be made to help rebuild the downtown area.

Using the responses from the question, Hansen surmised, in one sentence, that the purpose of a new facility would be to serve as a “gathering place for people of all ages for the benefit of the people of the community.”

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