Goal of survey: create a community vision

By Per Peterson

Do you live in Tracy? How long have you lived in the City of Tracy? What are some of your favorite things about living in Tracy? What is most important to you about Tracy?

Those are some of the questions that, along with rankings of various aspects of town, that make up a new Comprehensive Plan Survey put together by the Southwest Regional Development Commission and being offered to the public — including those who don’t live in town — by the City of Tracy.

This survey follows on the heels of one the City put out last November that focused on community facilities in an effort to ascertain what the community wants in a new facility and activities.

“This is one of the ways we can provide information into the comprehensive plan,” Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen said. “That plan is about, what do we want in the community, what do we want our community to look like? It’s about community facilities — not just a community center — but it’s also about things like parks, what we want our downtown to look like.”

The survey asks about what is most important to people — Tracy’s historical and cultural connections to southwest Minnesota; its location near state and regional parks; its proximity to an urban area such as Marshall; its affordability; it being a tight-knit community; the ability to purchase most or all goods needed in town; and how good of a place it is to raise a family.

The survey also addresses areas of concern that have the largest negative impact: properties and buildings in disrepair; population loss; lack of recreating options for youth and adults in town; conditions of roads; and lack of a diverse, small business community.

Also, those taking the survey are asked to rank the town’s 10 parks, how often they visit each and if they would like to see more parks added. The survey also asked which facilities respondents have visited in the past and their satisfaction with each: the VMC, the library, the aquatic center and the now-closed Multi-Purpose Center.

The downtown area is also included in the survey, and survey takers are asked about what they would like to see brought to the downtown area, i.e. housing, cafes or coffee shops, outdoor seating, or shared vendor or community space.

“It’s a much more broad look than the last survey that we did,” said Hansen. “I think it’s critical to get community involvement with these types of things. We can’t do our work without it. Ultimately, this comprehensive plan is a plan for the community, and if they don’t buy into it, it’s just a document that gets put on the shelf. This has to be about creating a community vision.”

The survey has already gone live, but it hasn’t been publicly announced, Hansen said. “We want to get this out there as widely as possible,” Hansen said. “This can be for people who live in Tracy and those who don’t. You actually get a different set of questions depending whether you live here or you don’t. We want to get the perspective of people who don’t live in Tracy as well people who live here.”

Hansen said the information for the comprehensive plan will be gathered over the summer and brought to the citizens’ steering committee, then to the Planning Commission, then the council.

The survey can soon be found on the City’s website; or you can go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/H3JSQZD or https://bit.ly/2RMo8eu.

The Comprehensive Planning Steering Committee’s next meeting will take place today (June 9).