Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, May 3, 1999

LP citizens asked to participate in important survey

By Luis Puga

It is not necessarily news that Lester Prairie is in the process of creating a comprehensive plan.

After all, the city has been working on the project since January.

The plan will include a great deal of information including city history, demographic information, the natural resources of the city, population trends, and existing land use factors.

Already, a planning commission has been formed to organize the effort to produce and follow through on the plan.

The city has also hired Matthew Johnson of the Mid-Minnesota Development Commission to gather the information for the plan. Johnson, a community development planner, is now at a stage where he is asking the citizens of Lester Prairie to do their part.

An integral part of the plan will be a survey handed out on Monday, May 17, and Tuesday, May 18.

This survey will gather information from Lester Prairie citizens on their desires for the city's future, and may direct future land use and grants for the city.

However, for the survey to fulfill its function, a current assessment on the city's condition will have to taken so Johnson can come back and make recommendations based on current needs.

Examples of survey questions include:

Should Lester Prairie should prioritize renovation for the next 20 years?

Should the city create an industrial park?

Does the city need additional recreational parks?

Some of the most important information on the survey will be about citizens' homes. The survey will ask homeowners to rate the condition of their house, specifically the condition of roofing, electricity, plumbing and heating. This information will be used to apply for possible housing rehabilitation grants for the city.

Johnson notes the most important question, and perhaps the one that most citizens are hesitant to answer, is about household income. The information is important because it can also be used to obtain grants from the Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development for the city.

To qualify for a grant, the survey must sample at least 70 percent of the citizens.

In addition, if a household chooses to leave that question blank, the entire survey for that household will be considered invalid.

While citizens may hesitate to disclose their income, Johnson wants to assure them that no one who lives in the city will see the individual survey sheets and that personal information will be kept confidential.

Surveys will be placed in sealed envelopes to ensure confidentiality.

Only staffers at the Mid-Minnesota Development Commission will see the individual surveys and compile the data into a report to be presented in mid-July.

Johnson is also in need of volunteers to distribute the surveys.

As of now, he said, he does not have enough volunteers. He hopes each volunteer will be able to cover a one to two block radius, but that is dependent on how many volunteers there are.

Johnson hopes to cover the entire community May 17, and follow up on any homes that aren't reached on the next day.

The survey will be distributed beginning at 5:30 p.m. and volunteers are expected to pick them up later that evening around 9 p.m.

If you would like to volunteer to distribute surveys, contact City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk at 320-395-2646, or just meet at city hall Monday, May 17 to help out.

Matthews hopes the city's response will be a good one, and he notes that Winsted's response percentage was 80 percent.

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