‘Let’s get to work on it:’ Albert Lea City Council approves new comprehensive plan for city

Published 6:29 am Friday, March 17, 2023

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The Albert Lea City Council on Monday approved the city’s new comprehensive plan, which is set to guide the vision and growth in the city over the next 10 to 20 years.

City Planner Megan Boeck said during the council workshop that the plan was created over more than 18 months with the work of a steering committee of 25 members. The city also reached out to the community through a survey completed by about 1,300 residents, including 2022 graduates, and through outreach with the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency board, the Karen community, residents at Trailside Apartments and even children during a Cinco de Mayo event.

The survey identified that people were attracted to Albert Lea for its high quality of life and low cost of living, and that some of the city’s challenges were housing, commercial growth, workforce and combating negative perceptions, Boeck said.

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The plan looks at long-range goals for land use, housing, public utilities, transportation, historic preservation, parks and recreation, and economic development and will be used to set priorities and budgets, update policies and make changes to meet the goals in the plan.

There are three to four initiatives per chapter of the more than 200-page document.

City Manager Ian Rigg thanked Boeck and other city staff for their work with the plan, saying it was a large undertaking.

Third Ward Councilor Jason Howland also thanked the community members who were a part of the process.

“This is sort of the backbone of how we move forward as a city and what our future holds,” he said.

He said based on the plan, it is evident Albert Lea is growing and there are a lot of positive things happening.

Albert Lea Mayor Rich Murray echoed his thanks for staff and community members who were involved.

“We now have a roadmap of where we want to go over the next 20 years,” Murray said. “So now the job is to implement this roadmap. We want to take the 20-some initiatives that we have in this plan and try to push some of them to completion — as many as we can.”

He said the plan can be adjusted along the way as necessary.

“This is the roadmap for growth,” Murray said. “This is the roadmap to keep this city moving forward, and so we’re going to take it right now — it’s not going back on the shelf — we’re going to take it and we’re going to get to work.”

He asked the councilors and staff to step up and help move some of the things forward that interest them.

“We want Albert Lea to be the best community in southern Minnesota … so let’s get to work on it,” Murray said.

Boeck said the plan will be mostly driven by the city’s community development department, but is multi-functional and will touch on other city departments and partners.

The city first adopted a comprehensive pan was adopted in 1948, with the last update coming in 2008.

Access the full plan at https://cityofalbertlea.org/comprehensive-plan/.