Members of the Lanesboro community gathered to discuss and learn about a proposed plan of development for Lanesboro during the city council meeting on Monday, Feb. 1. The plan was brought forth by nationally known planner, Randall Arendt.

In January, Eagle Bluff, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation and Seven River Alliance sponsored his visit to the Lanesboro area to share some of his expertise in subdivisions and commercial development.

Lanesboro EDA member Michael Brown presented Arendt's proposal to the city council. The presentation focused on how the city could be improved.

"This is a time sensitive report and was contrived quickly. Randall Arendt took a tour of the city when he was here," Brown said. "This is a rapidly evolving project and is set to begin in February and be done by May."

As a well-established national planner, Arendt had the opportunity to see Lanesboro and the unique attributes of the town. From what he learned and saw in the days he toured the town, he was asked to develop a proposal for Lanesboro. Brown said Arendt has had multiple areas of success and offered his proposal to Lanesboro at a price much lower than the market price.

"This is a timely proposal, a coincidental action between the city and state with the site for the ambulance shed, relocation of the brush dump and the Parkway intersection," Brown described.

Within the past few weeks, the EDA has vigorously pursued the proposal and has already secured $25,400 of the $30,000 fee for the plan. The money is coming from 39 businesses and residents in the community.

To begin the process of improving upon what Lanesboro has in place, Arendt and a facilitator he has recommended for the Lanesboro project would begin interacting with stakeholders in the community for issues they are concerned about.

Brown defined those stakeholders as the EDA, the Historic Preservation Commission, the city council, business owners, leaders in the community and those members of the community who have made an effort to reach out for this project.

The initial interviews would be completed by his facilitator prior to his first visit to the community once the project has begun. Afterwards, Arendt would confer with boards, eventually leading to a second round of interviews, resulting into more refined concepts for the town to focus on. The town would receive the final reports and maps in the first week of May.

Brown noted the work Arendt would do would add to the comprehensive plan of development from 1998 and another in 2006, detailing how things would be done.

"This is a good opportunity for the town. Seeing that SMIF and the Seven Rivers Alliance brought Randall Arendt here adds weight to the proposal. There is minimum risk to the city and maximum benefits," added John Davis, executive director for Lanesboro Arts.

The window for acting on the proposal is quite limited due to several factors, including Arendt's imminent retirement towards the end of the year, an end date for the facilitator and the upcoming tourism season.

Discussion about the proposal abounded at the city council, with council members Jason Resseman and Autumn Johnson hesitant to immediately approve the proposal without giving the community an opportunity to learn about the plan itself.

However, the council and audience recognized this proposal is a tremendous opportunity for Lanesboro.

Those who attended the meeting supported the proposal. The EDA already committed $7,000 toward the implementation of this proposal, along with the other 39 entities pledging their support.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Brown clarified that the EDA would be the coordinator of the proposal, while Arendt is the expert.

The city council approved Arendt's proposal after discussion of waiting to discover more about the finer details for a week. However, Council Member Tom Dybing pointed out he did not believe there would be much else the council would learn in a week. Therefore, the council approved going forward with the project and the city contributing up to $5,000 more on top of the $7,000 already committed by the EDA.