Howard Lake Herald, January 19, 1998

Council looks at residents' opinions


The surveys are back and residents have stated their opinions, said Howard Lake Mayor Mark Custer.

Last fall, the City of Howard Lake sent out 475 surveys to its residents.

The city council had several ideas in mind.

The council thought they might get a more accurate population count for funding applications, and they wanted to know people's opinions and needs.

"When we first looked at the surveys, I wondered if we (the council) could ever do anything right," said Custer.

All the comments seemed to be negative, he said. But then he stepped back and discovered residents had been honest in their remarks.

They had given the council their opinions on how they wanted to see their city improved.

Their pride in the city shows by the numbers of people who commented on the condition of the buildings in the downtown area, he said.

People want the fronts and backs of the buildings cleaned up and made presentable to residents, including mine, said Custer.

"I couldn't believe how much people wanted their opinions known," he said.

When council members collected the surveys, they were invited by many to come in for coffee and talk about those opinions.

Unfortunately, Custer said, the clean-up of the downtown area is not in the jurisdiction of the city council. That is up to the business community.

Custer also said he was amazed at how well informed the citizens of Howard Lake are.

"There are large numbers who watch the cable channel for the city council meetings.

"I think this is important, because they get all the dialog (and emotion) of each meeting."

Survey questions

Of the 320 surveys collected, 278 residents owned their homes and 12 rented.

Ages of those homes varied. They were: 1-10 yrs., 47; 11-20 yrs., 25; 21-30 yrs., 35; 31-40 yrs., 41; 41-50 yrs., 39; 51 plus yrs., 76; and 20 didn't know.

There were 280 single family homes and five duplexes.

If more housing units could be provided in Howard Lake, 147 residents stated single family units, 96 requested senior housing units, 38 wanted more townhomes, and 26 wanted modern apartment units.

Residents want community improvements: water quality - 166, small business development - 123, industrial development/industrial park - 119, walking/biking trail system - 99, sidewalks - 81, downtown improvements - 66, recreation programs - 54, parks - 49, housing rehabilitation - 47, water tower - 30, streets - 30 curb and gutter - 9.

The municipal on-off sale liquor store should stay as it is according to 151 residents, while 153 wanted something else done.

Sixty-six of those wanted an new off-sale liquor store at a new location on Hwy. 12, 48 wanted to close the on-sale and continue to operate and expand the off-sale liquor store, and 39 wanted the city to remove itself from the liquor business altogether.

The Howard Lake City Hall should have a different focus, according to 164 surveys.

Eighty-seven residents want to construct a community center and city offices with an expanded library, while 77 want to move the on and off sale liquor operation out of the current city hall and expand city offices in the current location.

If grant money cannot be obtained to restore the current city hall 165 people think no tax dollars should be spent on its external restoration, and 113 think tax dollars could be used.

Mayor Custer said he found this a little strange. If the city remains in this location, how could it not spend any money on maintenance?

Go to Residents' Survey Comments

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