HJ-ED-DHJ

March 19, 2007

State of the City address given by mayor, administrator

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

Delano Mayor Joe McDonald and City Administrator Phil Kern presented a “state of the city” address to members of the Delano Area Chamber of Commerce and the general public Thursday afternoon at city hall.

McDonald said members of the city council and city staff met in January to look at its goals for the coming year, and also look back at what was accomplished in 2006.

He cited many concerns brought up by the group, including the city’s growth, annexation issues, maintaining financial stability, continuing to improve the downtown area and river banks, improving communication, assisted living options, as well as maintaining a “small town feel.”

“It’s very important to remember our agricultural roots, and those who built this town,” McDonald said.

He said while campaigning for the position of mayor last fall, the common denominator of those who have lived in Delano for 50 years, and those who have lived in Delano one year, was maintaining that “small town feel.”

He added that a sense of safety comes with that small town feel, and spoke about local law enforcement and fire protection. McDonald said Delano’s crime rate is down, that the city recently added four hours of additional coverage from the Wright County Sheriff’s Office, and that the school district recently launched its school resource officer program.

Total calls for the city in 2006 were 2,240. More serious calls totaled 97 in 2006, and 108 in 2005, causing the city’s crime rate to drop. He said the Delano Fire Department responded to 374 “paged” calls in 2006, which has remained consistent with previous years.

McDonald also discussed how the city functions, and introduced other city staff members who were present. A question of how fast Delano is growing was also presented.

McDonald said a plan is in place to ensure Delano only has “good, quality growth.”

“We don’t want to explode too big, too soon,” he said.

As of March 1, he said, the city has 12 permits, whereas March 1, 2006, the city had 32. He attributed the decrease to the current real estate market, and said it gives the city a good chance to breathe and reevaluate some of its initiatives. He said he expects the decrease to continue through the construction of Highway 12, slated to start June 1, 2008, and pick up again after that project is complete.

Keeping Delano affordable was also discussed, with the amount of development and growth that has already taken place. McDonald said the goal is to have new development pay for itself, and to ensure planning is done before it’s too late.

McDonald and Kern also spoke about what the city is doing to help prevent flooding from the Crow River, and the grants received last year.

McDonald talked about the city’s buyout plans, and that the city has been purchasing land on the banks of the Crow River along Highway 12, south of the railroad bridge, to help with these efforts.

They also discussed the Elm Avenue storm drainage issues, and a downtown “flood wall.”

Parks and recreation opportunities were also discussed, and Kern noted the city is continuing with its phases of improvements to Central Park and the Big Rock play area.

He said new youth baseball/softball fields are in the works for this year, and the future will bring improvements for parking, and interior improvements to existing buildings.

Downtown redevelopment was also discussed, and McDonald mentioned a Rivertown row home project grand opening will be taking place Saturday, March 31 from noon to 4 p.m.

As for industrial growth, McDonald said there was limited progress last year. He said the applicant for the proposed industrial park on the west edge of town had pulled the application.

McDonald said he feels this is a “very important project for the city,” and said they’ll continue exploring options for further industrial development. He said a meeting will be set up within the next month to discuss the issue more.

McDonald also added there were no plans for any “big box” stores to locate to Delano anytime soon.

“As far as we know, nothing is happening in Delano right now,” he said, adding that perhaps after Highway 12 is reconstructed, the city could be approached again.

While McDonald touched briefly on Highway 12 construction, it was noted a chamber meeting Thursday, April 19 would be a platform for information to be presented. The meeting will be at noon at the Delano City Hall.


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