By Per Peterson
Under the shadow of the City of Tracy’s ongoing pursuit of a new community center lies some significant progress not seen in town in years.
A year after the pandemic cast a pall over every community in Minnesota, a number of new businesses have opened their doors in Tracy — both downtown and along U.S. Hwy. 14. Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen said in a recent interview that has resulted in a buzz around town, one that has not been seen in quite some time.
“It’s really exciting,” Hansen said. “The city council has made it a goal to grow the community, and I think you have to grow the business community at the same time you’re growing the population.”
A key to that growth is expanding the business sector downtown, but that didn’t come without controversy.
Gone at the intersection of Morgan and 3rd is the Multi-Purpose Center, which served as a home for seniors and other groups for decades. The City sold the building during the pandemic, which is a move that still causes bitter feelings among a certain population of people in town. But it was a move that city leaders felt had to be done and one that has resulted in a new coffee shop downtown.
“Just look at the traffic on that corner now,” said Hansen. “You can see so much happening that wasn’t happening the previous year, in terms of people and traffic.”
Hansen said he appreciates how difficult it was for some people to see the MPC building sold and knew selling the building would have some negative repercussions among the community. He said, however, that some decisions intended to move the city forward ultimately come with some conflict.
“Anytime you want to do something out of the box and new, you’re going to take some criticism for it,” he said. “The easiest thing to do would be to do nothing, and you would take no criticism for that. At the end of the day, the city council made the decision that they wanted to move forward; I think it’s been a good decision.”
Since the sale of the MPC and opening of the Plaid Moose, numerous meetings have taken place involving community members of all ages. Currently, the City is working with Southwest Initiative Foundation on setting up an endowment fund people can contribute to for future projects; enough money has been raised to cement that relationship — money that will be set aside for a new community center.
“I think what people can see is that if you work together, you can actually accomplish more, rather than if we just shoot arrows at each other all the time,” said Hansen.
See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.