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Preston’s goals and hopes for the future

Fri, Jan 10th, 2014
Posted in Preston Government

Molly Patterson-Lundgren reviews drafted community goals for the development of a new comprehensive plan for the city of Preston. Photo by Karen Reisner

Preston is taking a look at where it is and where it wants to go in the future. A second workshop meeting to develop a comprehensive plan was open to the public on January 8. It was well attended by about 50 officials, business people, and residents.

The last comprehensive plan was developed in the 1990s and completing a new plan had been delayed several years due to budget constraints. In June a proposal was accepted from McGhie and Betts which has since merged with WSB and Associates, Inc. to complete a new plan for the city. In July a comprehensive plan committee was formed. On December 4 the first workshop did an analysis of the city’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the city’s future.

Some of the strengths included but were not limited to the bluffs and river, school, small town values, proximity to Rochester, county seat, and airport. Weaknesses included aging infrastructure, old pool, lack of community center, aging population, lack of quality housing, empty stores in the business district, and lack of opportunities for youth.

Molly Patterson-Lundgren, municipal planner at WSB, led the group during this meeting citing six basic areas to be explored including housing, resource sustainability, business and industry (tourism), transportation, land use, and infrastructure and public services. She noted she had worked as a city planner for the city of Wabasha for nine years. During the process we are setting the baseline for who we are now and then developing a comprehensive plan for who we want to be in the future.

The larger group was split into smaller groups to add to or modify the lists in the goal setting process. Specific goals were outlined like the need for a community center or town hall, the production of quality multi--family housing, additional and better signage to locate businesses off Highway 52, a beautification of the business district, car wash, city kiosk near the Veterans Cemetery, and the improved availability of high speed Internet.

Future opportunities for the city will be impacted by the opening of the Southeast Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery, the National Trout Center, and Destination Medical Center (DMC). A better mix of businesses is needed downtown including businesses related to tourism.

Times do change the direction a city may take and the need for an updated plan is demonstrated by the veterans cemetery, NTC and DMC. All of these were not envisioned in the last comprehensive plan.

Questions were raised about whether there will be a need for another family restaurant, more lodging, and more housing. The likelihood of more industry near the intersection of Highways 52 and 16 in the future was discussed. It was suggested that a round-about at that intersection would be ideal for a safer and smoother flow of traffic.

Lundgren suggested utilizing the Main Street Program which has been designed to help communities revitalize their traditional and historic commercial districts. This could help with suggestions by some to brighten and make the downtown district look more historic.

Lundgren said she will go back and work with all the ideas raised and the next meeting will be in a couple of months.

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