Brainerd elected officials have a new proposed mission statement.
The consensus Monday night was that the mission should read, “A commitment to providing high quality, cost-effective public service and leadership in creating a sustainable city.”
City council and staff met Monday in the second of three strategic planning sessions. Dick Jordan, member of Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Execs, facilitated the meeting.
At the first meeting, council members and city staff were tasked with grouping and prioritizing goals and coming together on the mission and value statements. They came back Monday and quickly decided on the chosen statement.
Council member Kelly Bevans said he liked the statement as it was short and to the point. Mayor James Wallin agreed.
The group then brainstormed on stakeholders of the city.
“Who depends on the city?” Jordan asked.
The list included items like: Residents, local and utility businesses, intergovernmental bodies, schools, visitors, airport, library, Chamber of Commerce, service organizations, medical facilities, transportation, city departments and employees.
“It’s a better idea of who we serve and who we need to have in mind as we go forward in the future,” said council president Bonnie Cumberland.
The group tackled the next question of “what is the city today?”
Brainerd has many strengths, the group determined. Key factors included: name recognition, reliable utilities, excellent parks, great library, downtown potential and an educational center.
Still, there are challenges. Like a river that winds through town that no one knows is there, said council member Chip Borkenhagen.
“A lot of people don’t see local government as leading,” said council member David Pritschet.
Bevans offered, “Brainerd is past our prime. We’re still trying to find ourselves after the boom of the 60s and 70s.”
Other ideas were: High rental population with less home ownership, inadequate fund reserves, challenged in staff levels to meet levels of quality and timely services, more business marketing needed and youth migrating out and not coming back.
There’s a disconnect on the jobs available and the trainings we offer, Cumberland said.
Part of the reason for students leaving is because there isn’t a four-year college in town, Pritschet said.
Finally, the group questioned, “Where do we want to be in three years?”
Cumberland brought up a vision to take the bars from downtown and move them out to railroad property, and develop the railroad property into a destination with specialized shopping and restaurants. That leaves the downtown for lofts and other shops, she said.
Other ideas included: Riverfront walkways, a vibrant downtown, attraction along riverfront, residents become more involved with the happenings of the city, upgraded city-owned facilities, a parking ramp, more green space, a youth center, fewer house rentals and more home ownership and have a different approach to land use and zoning.
City Planner Mark Ostgarden said it would take a community to make the visions a reality, and the only way that will happen is “if people step up and make it happen.”
The group worked to form its ideas in a vision statement of where it wants the city to in three years, which will be reviewed at its next meeting.
The final strategic planning session is March 25.