Growth Forum panelists have extensive experience to offer for the afternoon discussion in Brainerd.
Smart growth and the challenges before the lakes area will be the topic of a Growth Forum set from 1-3:45 p.m. Friday at Central Lakes College. Topics are expected to move from development and infrastructure needs, including sanitary sewer districts, to housing demands and growth examples from the Twin Cities and St. Cloud.
Five panelists, Joe Christensen, Karen Christofferson, Reed Larson, Steve Reckers and Bruce Nelson will begin the discussion before opening the forum to questions and audience participation.
Christensen is one of the owners of Central Lakes Properties LLC, which has an 80-acre commercial development site west of the new Highway 371 by-pass and south of Highway 210.
The Home Depot store is the first of several development projects that Central Lakes Properties expects to complete in this area during the next few years. Christensen has an extensive background in real estate and development-related matters. He and his wife are both lifelong seasonal residents of the area and have been lakeshore owners on the Whitefish chain for the past 20 years.
Christofferson is public policy director for the Builders Association of the Twin Cities. She is a University of Minnesota graduate with a background in urban redevelopment and public policy. She has represented the housing industry in the public and private sectors for 25 years.
Her most recent recognition came from the National Association of Home Builders for a study completed in April 1996 titled "The High Cost of Sprawl: A Twin Cities metropolitan area urban land supply analysis and recommendations for managing growth." In 1998, a 10-minute video based on the study was produced.
Larson is the Regional Manager of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Baxter office, overseeing agency activities in an 11 county area of north-central Minnesota, including Crow Wing and Cass Counties.
Larson implements agency programs and policies and has been active in helping develop the agency's Smart Growth strategy. Larson spent 20 years as an environmental consultant in California and Minnesota as a Registered Environmental Assessor and Certified Hazardous Materials Manager. Larson joined the MPCA in 1992 when he moved his family to Brainerd.
Nelson has been the executive director of the Alexandria Lake Area Sanitary District since 1978. He serves as the chief administrative officer of the district and works with a 10-member appointed board. The district has 20 employees and an operating budget of $1.7 million and a $1.5 million annual debt service. The district operates an advanced waste water treatment facility and maintains 190 miles of sanitary sewer, 92 lift stations, 31 mini-stations and 86 grinder stations. The service area is 55 square miles, serving a population of 17,000 with more than 6,700 customer accounts.
Previously, Nelson worked for the cities of Faribault and Fridley and served in the United States Air Force as a Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile crew member. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
Reckers is coordinating the community-based planning program at Minnesota Planning. He has been with Minnesota Planning for more than 26 years. Previously, he worked for a private planning consultant in assisting cities and counties with comprehensive planning and implementation activities.
During his tenure at Minnesota Planning, Reckers served on numerous councils including the Governor's Commission on Affordable Housing. More recently, he served as the policy analyst on the agency's critical issues team, which has authored a number of publications on state spending, annexation, growth management, welfare reform and gambling. He also provided technical assistance to local governments on planning and related issues.
Informational handouts will be available at the forum. In addition, there will be graphic displays of the region and growth patterns.
The public forum is sponsored by The Dispatch. Co-sponsor is the University of Minnesota Center for Urban and Regional Affairs.
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