Column: Get ready for the comprehensive plan update

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 15, 2007

Randy Erdman, Positively Albert Lea

Would you rather have a part in planning the future of Albert Lea or wait to see what happens? If the subject is next weekend, waiting to see what happens is probably not too risky. What if, however, the subject is the rest of your life? What if the subject is the future of your city?

Planning the future of an entire city may seem like a huge challenge, but do you think you should just wait to see what happens? Planning involves making conscious choices about the future &8212; our city&8217;s future. Those who do not plan just let the future happen. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

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At our May 29th meeting, the City Council voted and unanimously approved work to begin on a complete revision of Albert Lea&8217;s Comprehensive Plan. Consultants retained to work with our community to complete this work are Hoisington Koegler Group, Inc. These consultants will work collaboratively with the comprehensive plan steering committee, city staff, and all members of our community that desire to participate in the process.

A comprehensive plan is a written document that identifies the goals, objectives, principles, guidelines, policies, standards and strategies for the growth and development of a community. It is a tangible representation of what a community wants to be in the future. Typically it is a document combining both text and graphics (maps and pictures) to fully illustrate and describe what is required to implement the city&8217;s future.

Planning for a community is similar in many ways to finding one&8217;s way on a map &8212; even if you know where you want to go, it is important to know where you are before you can determine how to get there. Albert Lea&8217;s comprehensive plan must be one that informs, guides, and educates our community about the challenges, actions and opportunities available to us. Within the plan, we must seek to protect and preserve the qualities and features of Albert Lea that makes us what we are: caring, diverse, healthy, progressive, forward thinking, sustainable, in control of the future, enriching and neighborly; the land between the lakes.

The best plan is one that represents the collective will of the community. There will be numerous opportunities within the next year for thoughts and vision to be shared by all members of our community through public meetings, listening sessions, interviews, etc.

Jump on board &8230; make sure that you are part of the process for defining our city&8217;s future. Your participation is the only way to ensure that the values that we all hold dear in Albert Lea are represented in our city&8217;s plan for the future.

Watch for more information about your opportunity to participate in the city&8217;s comprehensive plan process on your local government access channel, Charter Communications Channel 16 and the local media.

Randy Erdman is the mayor of Albert Lea. His column appears monthly.