MASON CITY UPDATE: Solar sites on the horizon for the city
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MASON CITY UPDATE: Solar sites on the horizon for the city

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Editor's note: Each month, City Administrator Aaron Burnett writes an update on city business for the mayor and city council. In order to invigorate engagement and involvement with local government, we'll reprint his report here.

Mayor and City Council Members,

City departments and staff have worked over the last year to achieve the 12 goals identified in the 2018-2019 list of council priorities. Many of these goals have been accomplished or had significant progress made to address the priority identified. I would like to take the time during this report to update the council and public on some of these priorities.

Execution of the River City Renaissance was the highest priority and the arena is scheduled to be open in December; bonds have been issued for the projects; the development agreement for the hotel and convention center has been signed with the developer; the hotel flag is identified, the skywalk and pavilion are in the design phase; and several spinoff projects and improvements have occurred.

Exploring the feasibility of solar power was identified as a priority and this council meeting has the identification of the developer included as an agenda item. Furthermore, a final agreement to authorize several solar sites should be closely following this meeting’s action.

Regarding increased recreational amenities, the development of the water trail and High Line Trail were also included in the priorities. The mitigation of Dam #3 is already scheduled with grant funding from the state. The other 2 dams on the Winnebago are in design for mitigation and are seeking grant funding. Half of the High Line Trail land has been transferred with the process started on getting the second half transferred to the city. Grants have been received and design work will start soon on improvements along the High Line Trail.

Workforce development has consistently been a priority for the council and region and the city has supported such efforts by the North Iowa Corridor and the Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. Additionally, the council has identified the Vision North Iowa plan as the guiding document on many development efforts and has endorsed its execution.

The Willow Creek River Walk, incentivizing downtown living and expanding small business support were council priorities. In order to achieve these goals, the Willow Creek development is the focus of the Iowa Great Places designation and grant application. This effort is being aided by the development of 130 apartments along the Willow Creek and Planning and Zoning updating the Willow Creek Master Plan. The creek banks are getting cleared in the next year and additional grant funds are being pursued for the development of the River Walk. Additionally, the expansion of the city forgivable loan programs was completed and the urban revitalization area was modified to incentivize the construction and remodel of downtown dwellings.

While this is not an exhaustive list of the developments related to the council priorities, it shows a strong dedication by city staff over the last year to execute on the vision provided by the council. Work will continue on the full list of priorities from last year and city staff will start to integrate the new council priorities set at the last meeting.

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Aaron Burnett is Mason City's city administrator.


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