The City of Mountain Iron has recently completed a number of planning efforts including, a comprehensive land use plan and a redevelopment plan for "Old Town Mountain Iron". In addition, the City of Mountain Iron has a five-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) in place that details anticipated capital expenditures for the City.
The City of Mountain Iron is discussing various potential projects that likely will impact future development patterns. The City identified a need to review these projects and discuss their desirability and the priority each project has for the City. In addition, each of the projects will likely require financial support from the City in order to move forward. In this light, it is important to discuss how to best utilize City resources to ensure investment of public dollars will help move the City forward in a desirable direction and will bring the intended benefits for the City.
The future of the old down town versus the new development that is taking place south of Highway 169 is a central issue in the overall discussion of allocating City resources. The Comprehensive land use plan status the desire to designate the Old town as an historic district and to reclaim and enhance historic structures to preserve the community's history and ethnic heritage and to promote tourism. The Comprehensive plan also recommends that Mountain Iron provide a new town center modeled on a traditional town with characteristics such as a Main street and a civic community center complex. Steps have been taken in this direction with the relocation of the City Hall to the current location and location of the Elementary school in its vicinity.
The following summary report provides an overview of the discussion that took place over three meetings with City Staff and Council Members. Summaries of the first two individual meetings are included in Appendix A. The comments from the third meeting are incorporated in the summary report. The report includes a brief discussion of the planning process and an overview of some of the general conclusions. This is followed by a discussion of three topical areas, housing, economic development and community infrastructure and services needs. Each of the topical areas includes a discussion of the key issues, the projects identified, opportunities and barriers for project implementation and action steps needed to move forward. The report will finalize with a summary of the project priorities as they were ranked at the third meeting.
The Planning Process
The strategic planning process included three meetings with staff and City Council members. The first meeting was with City staff. The purpose of this meeting was to identify issues, discuss potential projects and the challenges that need to be overcome to bring each project to fruition. At the end of this meeting a list of projects was identified as well as estimates of potential costs for each of the project. The second meeting was a meeting with Council members. The purpose of this meeting was to identify the Council's concerns regarding future development and needs for public improvements. A discussion also took place to identify potential barriers that need to be overcome in order for the Council to make a decision and projects to move forward. A third meeting included representatives from both City staff and the Council. At this meeting the results from the previous two meetings were discussed and a discussion took place on opportunities and barriers in relation to project implementation. A discussion on what desirable future development would entail took place as well. At the end of this meeting projects were prioritized.
Over the past five years the City has made a number of decisions that have impacted the future of the Old Town Mountain Iron. Moving the City Hall and the Elementary School to the Highway 169 location changed the function of the Old Town. Promoting new housing development adjacent to City Hall further strengthened this area of Mountain Iron. The Comprehensive Land Use Plan supports the development of a new town center and recognizes the historic value and potential the Old Town offers.
The decision on whether to move the city library to the highway location will further impact the role the old down town plays as the traditional community center. To an extent, a decision has already been made by moving functions traditionally associated with a downtown area such as the school and City Hall. A discussion needs to take place on whether the City can and wants to sustain two community centers.
Rural residential development, for high amenity areas in particular, could offer some opportunity for Mountain Iron. However, a clear market analysis is lacking and there is no clear vision of what sites would be most desirable to promote development and what role the City should play in promoting development. To a great extent this will also be determined by developers interest and willingness to invest in an area.
There are no clear maps that in place (to our knowledge) that communicate a community vision that can help a developer determine which areas would be desirable for future development when considering cost for infrastructure and the community vision regarding future development for adjacent land use.
Currently there is no clear vision in place what type of businesses the City would like to target to promote economic development within the community. In addition, there appears to be no clear consensus on what Mountain Iron's role should be within the Quad cities in providing space for economic activities.
The current comprehensive land use plan uses unrealistic growth assumptions. This warrants a critical look at the City's land use needs as described in the plan.
There are grant opportunities for infrastructure improvement needs for Mountain Iron as well as for public safety investments. Pursuing these opportunities will require some careful planning to identify community needs and data collection in order to meet application requirements. Opportunities exist for wastewater and water improvements and street enhancements.
Existing situation and trends
The City of Mountain Iron feels it is important to expand its housing stock and to support new housing development in order to make up for housing lost through mining expansions in the older parts of town. Key reasons to maintain and expand the housing stock are to maintain and expand the city's tax-base and to maintain a population level that can support the cost-effective provision of community services.
Mountain Iron's population declined from 3,362 in 1990 to 2,999 in 2000, an 11 percent decrease. This is comparable to the region wide trend of population decline. In addition, the population is aging with the percentage of children under age 20 decreasing from 30.3 percent to 25.9 percent while the number of people age 65 and over increased from 13.9 percent to 15.5 percent. These numbers are in stark contrast with the assumptions used for the development of the comprehensive land use plan with an estimated population growth to 4,500 in 2019 and population at the time of plan development of 3,644. This difference in numbers and regional trends of a declining and aging population warrant to look critically at the recommendations in the land use plan in this light.
According to a recently completed housing study for the City of Virginia, quoted in the Old Town Plan, the Quad City market area is anticipated to lose additional households in the upcoming years. However, the study identified that recent residential growth took place mainly in high amenity areas such as lakeshores and quality rural sites within Mountain Iron. This trend may offer some opportunity for Mountain Iron. It is anticipated that demand for senior housing is likely to increase in the future for the area according to the Virginia housing study. However, the Old Town Mountain Iron Study states that the Mountain Manor senior citizen housing unit has been chronically under-occupied. This may indicate that Mountain Manor currently may not meet market needs for senior citizens.
The Old Town Mountain Iron Study identifies that the existing housing within the old down town offers opportunities for first time homebuyers looking for affordable housing opportunities. The study also recommends to consider the potential natural amenities offered by the mining pit lakes for residential development. In order to make this happen, the City would need to play a pro-active role in soliciting a developer.
The most recent major housing development in Mountain Iron has been south of Highway 169 adjacent to the Elementary School. The City played an active role with financial support from the IRRRA to develop 26 build ready lots for single family homes. The majority of these properties have been sold.
Three potential housing projects have been identified for Mountain Iron through the strategic planning discussion. In addition, housing rehabilitation in the older part of town would be another consideration in maintaining an attractive and competitive housing stock. The phase two housing development adjacent to the School property appears to be a preferred development scenario and would be in keeping with the desire to develop a new town center. Three potential housing projects are:
Phase two of the housing development at the School property
Four Mile Lake development
U.S. Steel property around the reservoir
Barriers to these housing development projects include:
Financial resources needed to pay for the up-front cost to develop infrastructure for the properties. Infrastructure improvements will need to be assessed to new residents. The City will need to estimate cost to prepare sites.
No clear housing market information available that provides a solid support for the City to make a financial commitment to finance up-front infrastructure needs for new development.
Developers have shown interested for housing projects but the City has received no firm proposals yet for housing development.
It is unlikely that the City will be able to receive outside funding for market rate housing development.
The City will need to make a decision what role it is willing to play and what risks it is willing to take to promote new residential development.
For the phase two residential housing development, adjacent to the elementary school, the following action steps were identified before the City can move forward with making a commitment to financially support this project:
Determine the actual cost of providing infrastructure to the parcels.
Determine the price the parcels need to be sold for in order to recover the infrastructure cost. This may require the development of different pricing scenarios through the use of a combination of an up front lump sum assessment in the purchase price and a monthly assessment.
After the cost of the lots have been determined conduct a market study in order to assess if the parcels are likely to be sold for the estimated costs necessary to recover the infrastructure investments.
Consider developing an RFP to attract a developer for this project. In this scenario the City would attract a developer that would partner with the City on the development of this residential area and share the risk of the up front cost of site preparation.
There is potential interest from developers in setting up a lake development on Four Mile Lake. This would require the City to assist in financing the up front cost of providing water and sewer infrastructure to this site as well as require rezoning of the area to higher densities. The City could in this case re-coup the infrastructure cost through assessments. A consideration would be to require the developer to have a performance bond in place in case the lots are not all sold. This will prevent the City from having to cover all the development costs if the developer is not able to sell all the parcels within a reasonable amount of time.
Mountain Iron and the region have experienced an aging and declining population. This trend is in contrast with the growth assumptions used in the Mountain Iron comprehensive land use plan and may impact the plan recommendations.
The Old Town Mountain Iron Plan identifies housing opportunities for first time home buyers looking for affordable housing. The plan also identifies areas that could take advantage of potential high amenity residential development that could be created around the Mine Pit lakes and that take advantage of the Mesabi Trail System and potential golf course development. Senior housing is a growth area, however, the Mountain Manor does not seem to meet current market needs for seniors.
A second phase housing development adjacent to the school appears to have high priority based on the discussions that this report is based on. However, the Council would need more information on housing market and site development costs before being able to move forward.
A key barrier to the City's involvement in supporting new housing development is uncertainty about the demand for housing and the ability to re-coup public investments. This would require a market study to better understand what the market can bear and what investments are appropriate.
Developers have expressed interest in various locations within Mountain Iron taking advantage of high amenity locations. However, the City has no firm proposals in hand.
Existing situation and trends
Minntac dominates Mountain Iron's economy employing roughly 1,600 workers. The Old Down Town study identifies this stream of workers as a potential market for certain retail ventures such as restaurants and convenience stores. Over the years retail in the Old Downtown area has experienced a steady decline. The plan identifies three types of businesses that would likely be able to survive in the old down town setting. These businesses would include; convenience operations catering to Minntac workers, businesses such as Spring Creek catalogue that have ties to the area and/or who are less bound to a location with easy customer access, and finally businesses who's special character could draw visitors to an otherwise out of the way area.
The Old Town Mountain Iron report identifies the Old Town as having modest tourism potential that could provide part of the customer base for existing and new retail businesses. The report stresses that economic development will respond to general market forces or to the unpredictable whim of individual investors and entrepreneurs. Public investment such as trail development and streetscape enhancements can contribute towards enhancing a favorable climate for new business development-they cannot cause the economic activity to occur or, once there, to remain.
In addition to the Old Downtown some retail is oriented along the Highway 169 corridor. These retail outlets take advantage of the easy highway access and cross range traffic. Mountain Iron would like to see additional retail or business development in the 169 corridor however, no clear vision is in place what this should be.
Through the planning discussions three locations have been identified that could have opportunities for economic development:
On the south side of Highway 169 in proximity to the existing and proposed new housing development approximately 40 acres of land is available that could be used for a business park and/or commercial development. It would be desirable on this location to have commercial development that would complement the residential development with services. This land is currently owned by the Mountain Iron HRA.
On the north side of Highway 169 approximately 40 acres is available with freeway access. This area offers development potential for commercial activities that require freeway access.
The Old Downtown has been identified as having potential for development for tourism. A taskforce is in place that will work on the development of enhancement projects and development of a theme that would include Mountain Iron's mining history. At this point specific projects have not crystallized yet. The Transportation Enhancement program offers a potential funding opportunity for street improvements and beautification projects. Other funding opportunities for redevelopment such as infrastructure improvements and storefront enhancements could be available through the Community Development Block Grant program administered by St. Louis County.
The main limiting factors to move forward on these projects include:
A lack of financial resources from the City to support public investment to promote development
Limited opportunities for outside funding
Not clear what market demands are for retail and business/office development
The Eveleth-Virginia progress park will offer space and incentives for new businesses and will likely meet the Quad Cities' needs for the foreseeable future.
No clear vision in place what type of economic activity is being targeted for Mountain Iron and what market needs are and were mountain Iron fits in the regional economic fabric. In addition, there is currently no clear consensus regarding future residential development and location of services such as the Library. Commercial development will, to a certain extent, depend on what happens in this arena. Retail development typically follows residential development or takes advantage of areas with high traffic.
Wetland issues on the HRA land that may impact a development proposal.
The following action step has been identified that would need to take place in order to move forward:
Conduct a market study to identify what type of businesses could be attracted to the sites given the regional needs, the cost for site development, and the opportunities highway access and location offers to potential businesses.
After discussion it was felt that at this point that this element does not require immediate action from the City since there are no clear leads for businesses that may want to locate to the available sites. The City should work with the Quad Cities economic development director in finding interested parties to locate on one of the highway access sites.
The City's role should be to assist in site preparation but should not finance construction of a spec. building. Site design should take advantage of highway exposure for commercial and good transportation access for light industrial or office use.
Minntac dominates the economy employing roughly 1,600 workers
Retail in the old down town has experienced a steady decline. The Minntac workers traffic and tourism offers some opportunity for businesses in this area.
Two locations along 169 offer opportunities for commercial/retail development. However, currently no clear market study in place what type of businesses would be interested in locating here.
No clear information in place of site development cost and potential wetland concerns that would need to be addressed.
Retail development typically follows residential development or takes advantage of high traffic areas. For potential developers interested in commercial development it is currently unclear what direction the City is taking regarding location of residential and services such as the library. In addition the Range communities face a declining population trend. It is likely that these developments will determine to an extent what commercial development will take place.
There is currently no future land use map in place that show the desired future land use for Mountain Iron that could assist developers in better understanding desired future development trends.
Existing situation and trends
The City of Mountain Iron has a variety of needs regarding community services and infrastructure. These include maintenance and upgrading of existing infrastructure as well as development of new infrastructure to promote new development. The following needs have been identified regarding community infrastructure:
Mountain Iron has an aging wastewater collection system and with that Inflow and Infiltration (I&I) problems that need to be addressed in order to be in compliance with wastewater regulation. Not addressing wastewater issues could jeopardize future wastewater infrastructure expansion within the City limits. The estimated costs for addressing the City's wastewater collection needs are $3 million. These cost will be covered through utility bills.
The City's library needs to be brought into Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. Discussion is taking place whether to construct a new library or to update the existing one. It is desired to make the library more into a resource center for the community. A developer has expressed a potential interest in developing a library combined with office and retail space. This proposal will need to be further explored before the feasibility of such a project can be determined.
Sub-station update and expansion into electric services will need to take place in order to promote reliable electrical services to residents
Wastewater collection infrastructure would need to be expanded for any of the proposed housing and commercial developments
Road infrastructure would need to be expanded for new housing and commercial/business development
Within the old town the City could be eligible for a number of community development programs such as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), USDA rural development programs, and Army Corps of Engineers programs.
The Enhancement Program offers opportunities to fund streetscape improvements in the old downtown.
No clear consensus on need and level of service. The library will need further study on the cost for the development of a new library versus upgrading the existing library. The City will need to make a decision what kind and what level of services they feel is appropriate to provide to residents.
The City will need to allocate the resources for the library improvements since no outside funding is likely to be available for this project.
Old Town Improvements
Need for development of an action plan for Old Town. The City will need to further develop a concept and cost of what type of streetscape and commercial storefront improvements it would like to see happen in the Old Town drawing from the recommendations from the Old Town Study and set project priorities based on cost, need and community support.
Need to develop a comprehensive approach to investment in the Old Town. Investment in the Old Down Town should be comprehensive and not only look at the exterior infrastructure such as buildings and streetscape, it should also address the underlying physical infrastructure such as wastewater collection and waterlines. When considering improvements needs should be addressed in a comprehensive manner.
If the City Council decides that Mountain Iron should maintain a City library it would be recommended to develop a number of scenario's for addressing the library needs at various cost levels. This information will allow City Council members to decide what services and at what cost it can best meet both the residents library needs as well as what is reasonable considering the use of the City's resources.
The City will need to make a decision on how to balance investments in the Old Town with investments in the new town center area. A consideration should be how location of city services will impact business opportunities for an area and were this fits in the vision for Mountain Iron?s future development. The City should prevent a situation were these two areas will be competing with each other.
Identify funding opportunities and project areas for infrastructure upgrades. Work with St. Louis County Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), USDA and Army Corps of Engineers community development specialists to determine eligibility for various infrastructure improvement programs.
Explore the desirability of applying for Federal Highway Administration enhancement funding for streetscape improvements in the Old Town area.
The City has a capital improvement program in place that projects capital costs out to 2006. The current capital improvement plan covers expenditures for parks, public safety and public infrastructure such as wastewater, water, electricity and roads. The current capital improvement program (CIP) has not accounted yet for costs associated with new residential and commercial development, library renovation/construction, and other potential projects discussed in this strategic planning exercise. A critical next step will be to review the CIP and make changes as necessary in the CIP to reflect the City's priorities in the next five years.
After the discussion of the three topical areas housing (commercial/business development. Community infrastructure) meeting participants were asked to review the projects identified in the previous two planning rounds and to rank these projects. For the ranking each participant received nine stickers ranked 1-9. Each participant was asked to give their favorite project the highest ranking with 9 points being the highest and their least favorite the lowest with 1 point being the lowest. In order to rank each project the total number of projects were added with the project receiving the highest number of points receiving the highest ranking. The projects' ranking is listed below:
Upgrade or replacement of the City Library (36)
Provide infrastructure for the four mile lake development. (Pending an agreement with a developer can be reached.) (35)
Start preliminary site development along Highway 169 for commercial development. (28)
Site preparation for phase two housing development at school baseball field location. (27)
Unity Drive Extension to access residential land for development. (27)
Enterprise Drive Extension (21)
Old Downtown tourism enhancement project(s) (20)
Acquire US Steel reservoir property for upscale housing development (19)
Golf course concept (12)
Analysis of funding opportunities:
The following is a short overview of potential funding opportunities that may be available to support projects identified through the planning process. This list should be considered a starting point and the City of Mountain Iron may be eligible for additional programs. It is important to realize that funding requests are more likely to be successful if well planned and based on clearly identified community needs.
For market rate housing development there is not much opportunity for outside funding. IRRRA typically has funded these type of projects in the region, however, under the current economic circumstances it is unlikely funding will be available.
The St. Louis County CDBG program offers housing rehabilitation opportunities in areas that meet the income eligibility requirements.
EDA at this point is unlikely to support an economic development project without a clear vision of what type of business would be attracted to a site. EDA is unlikely to support a project that would target business from within the Quad City area to relocate to a new site. Also, Progress Park is already being funded through EDA and this is likely to be a consideration in reviewing a funding request from Mountain Iron.
IRRRA could be a potential funder of a business development project if a project is likely to create new jobs. However, currently the IRRRA is heavily involved in the Progress Park development and this may have priority for the Quad Cities area.
The FHWA Enhancement Program offers opportunity to work on the tourism component for the Old Town through streetscape and additional trail development.
A number of community development funding opportunities could be used towards wastewater infrastructure improvements for areas with qualifying income levels. These programs include: CDBG, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 569 program, and USDA rural.
The Enhancement program for streetscape improvements would offer opportunity for street and bike/pedestrian improvements. Because Mountain Iron is a community under 5,000 they would need to partner with St. Louis County in order to submit an enhancement proposal.
Emergency services equipment could be partially funded through a number of public safety grant programs. Programs have been available at the federal level. The MN DNR also offers some opportunity for purchase of surplus equipment.
Mountain Iron Strategic Planning staff meeting notes, 5-23-02
The following is a summary of the strategic planning staff meeting held May 23rd. This meeting is the first in a series of three strategic planning meetings between the staff and City Council intended to develop a work plan and to set project priorities for Mountain Iron. At this meeting staff discussed issues and concerns regarding development and infrastructure needs for Mountain Iron. Staff discussed issues and needs regarding residential, commercial, industrial, and community facilities and infrastructure needs. At the conclusion of the discussion a listing of potential projects was created with an estimated cost. These projects are considered critical projects to help bring some of the development potential of Mountain Iron to fruition.
Opportunities/reasons to promote residential development:
Increase the taxbase
Attract families with children of school age
Increase the younger population
Increase utility services customer base
New residential development initiatives should locate new housing in area south of Highway 169 and direct population away from areas targeted for mining expansion
Mountain Iron can offer quality of live, proactive planning can maintain and enhance this quality of live and attract people to the community
Four Mile Lake development, would be a housing development around the lake by private entities
Turnover at the mines with many people retiring is likely to create an influx of younger families.
Constraints/trends impacting housing development:
Cost of infrastructure to develop land needs to be subsidized to attract developers interest
Housing is lost through mine expansions, this housing needs to be replaced in order to retain population and tax-base
Community is losing infrastructure as the mines expand but receives no compensation to replace it in other areas of town.
The City needs to be pro-active to get people interested in developing property
Surrounding communities have aging housing, Mountain Iron can attract residents from these communities by providing quality of housing
What is the role the city should play in the residential development?
The should facilitate the development of land but not function as the land developer. The City can through its financing abilities provide for the up front investment of infrastructure. However, the City will need to recoup these infrastructure investments through tax-base and assessments.
The City should map out those lands that are the most desirable to develop in the short term from a cost of infrastructure point of view. The City should inventory funding needs and opportunities for infrastructure development and set development priorities.
In relation to the older housing stock, with an aging population and turnover in the older housing segment the city could develop a housing rehabilitat ion program that actively targets first time homebuyers to buy starter homes in the older part of town.
Old infrastructure needs to be addressed in the older parts of Mountain Iron. Looking at cosmetic and historic preservation has to take place in conjunction with addressing infrastructure needs below the building. Not addressing failing wastewater infrastructure could impact the city's ability to expand this infrastructure in other areas of town. Addressing aging wastewater infrastructure would cost an estimated $3 Million.
Mine expansions create some uncertainty whether older parts of town will get bought out. This should be a consideration when looking at repairs. However, it should not be used as an excuse to defer necessary maintenance.
When looking at where to invest in infrastructure the City should consider what taxes certain areas generate. This, to a certain extend, should be reflected in the resources the City spents on an area. Another consideration for investment in new development should be what type of development has the most economic impact for the city and improves its tax base.
When looking at commercial development opportunities it is important to consider the viability of certain areas for commercial development. The historic downtown has limited possibilities to sustain multiple commercial developments. The population and income base isn't there and tourism opportunities are limited. In addition competition from larger retail outlets limit types of business that could survive in the downtown area.
When looking at investing the City's resources an important consideration should be what areas would generate the most benefits for the City as a whole such as tax-base and employment.
There are 40 acres of land suitable for commercial retail development on the north side of Highway 169. This land has a freeway access and is conveniently located to extend utilities. A next step should be to clear this land so interested parties can get a better feeling for the lay of the land and the opportunities it could offer for development.
For the longer term the City will need to look at other sites and develop a second highway access in such a way that this access is used to support commercial development. A lot of the value of highway frontage is determined by highway access. The City needs to be ready so that if a party is interested in developing the City can move fast enough and provide the guarantees a developer is looking for regarding highway access and the commercial viability of the land.
Improvement costs for this project would be an estimated $500,000
Business Park Development
There are 40 acres of developable land that would be suitable for a business park development on the south side of Highway 169. This location has convenient access for utility expansion.
Enterprise drive south would need to be extended in order to connect the clinic to the community center. The cost for improvements are estimated at $200,000.
This project may have EDA funding potential
Recreation, Green Space and Trails
Feasibility study and initial drawings have been completed for the development of a golf course. The project is economically feasible according to the study. The course would be located behind the commercial area
The next step would be to develop a plan that looks at the financial aspects on how to implement the project.
In relation to this the City should revisit the park system that is in place. Neighborhoods have shifted and park needs have changed. This needs to be reflected in the system and management to ensure parks serve residents most effectively. In a park study look at use of existing parks other potential uses of existing parklands and needs for new park and facility development.
The following is a summary of potential projects that the Cit y should consider of the next two to three years and their estimated costs. These projects will form a starting point to develop project priorities and focus for development initiatives. The total estimated improvement costs are 1.9 million dollars and an additional 3 million for wastewater infrastructure improvements.
The library needs to be upgraded. Some key questions are can the library at the current location be made in the resource it needs to be for the City? Where would the library best serve the community? Estimated cost for library project $700,000
Unity drive extension, has strategic access to residential land development Estimated cost $750,000
Sub-station update feeds the entire city. ($150,000) this will be paid for through utility payments
Expand into electric services. ($100,000) Paid for by utility payment
Enterprise drive would need to be extended. The cost for improvements estimated at $200,000.
Update of City utility infrastructure estimated at $3 Million.
Consolidation of services could lead to great cost savings in the areas of utilities, waste management, fire protection and EMS services
Start preliminary site development for commercial development along Highway 169. Get funding in place so City can move quickly if interest is there to develop (Funding needs?)
Need to replace wetlands for developments that took place a number of years ago.
The following is a summary of the discussion with the Mountain Iron Council members on May 30th.
The discussion focussed first around the question of what are the main concerns and priorities the Council members have:
The main concerns include:
The phase two of the new housing development which is planned to take place on the baseball field adjacent to the school. The location of the housing would be attractive for families with children due to its proximity to the school. The lots for this housing development however will be significantly higher than the ones from the phase one development. Prices for build ready lots with infrastructure in place are estimated between $30 and $40,000.
Another potential housing development site is the U.S. Steel property around the Reservoir. This property is for sale and could be marketed to a more upscale type of customer from the Twin Cities and Chicago market areas.
Developing a more diverse economy by expanding into technology and tourism type of economic activities is another concern. The City could play a role in this by laing the groundwork such as obtaining property, providing infrastructure and work on the development of an enterprise zone.
For commercial development the property north of 169 should be available for this.
Regarding tourism and recreation, the downtown area has potential for recreation and tourism development in addition a golf course study has been completed
Library needs remodeling or new?
The Council then discussed what they felt would be the direction the City should take in setting priorities:
The economic climate in the region is changing and there are no longer IRRRB dollars available to pay for large infrastructure projects
The Council discussed what the role of the community is within the region. One observation was that regarding housing and economic development a more regional approach would be more beneficial for decision making. The question is how do we get communities to cooperate more in this area. Virginia and Eveleth are currently developing their progress park which may lead to the conclusion that Mountain Iron should focus on housing for potential new residents coming to the area as a result of this.
The Council members has a discussion about the type of commercial development that would be appropriate to take place along Highway 169. The vision here is that the commercial development in this area should also have some neighborhood function and should serve/benefit the new housing development that takes place in its proximity. The City's role should be to facilitate the process by identifying potential businesses to locate in this development and getting a developer interested in taking on the project. The City could also play a role in assisting in the development of infrastructure to support this development.
The phase two housing development will be significantly more expensive this could impact the city's ability to sell the lots.
Finally the Council started a discussion on what they felt at this point should be priorities. With limited resources where should investments be focussed?
Investment in new infrastructure should focus on commercial and residential development in the new part of town.
In the old part of town the city will need to address I&I so it will not jeopardize permitting of infrastructure extensions.
Regarding the library a question remains should the City provide this service, or were does this fit within the priority ranking? Is this something too that should be addressed regionally?
The discussion concluded with an indication that the council would like assistance through the strategic planning process in the development of a funding strategy for potential projects. Potential services for implementation would include identification and writing of grants, assist in the development of incentive packages, develop leverage with other entities.