Tyler prepares for growth

City to develop comprehensive plan for future decision making

Tyler City Administrator Robert Wolfington is helping spearhead a city planning project.

City officials in Tyler, Minnesota are laying groundwork in anticipation of some major changes.

“Two of our community’s largest employers are considering building new facilities in the next few years,” said City Administrator Robert Wolfington. “We need to be proactive in planning for that development as well as any other future growth we might see in the next three to ten years.”

The city enlisted the help of civil engineering firm Bolton & Menk to develop a comprehensive master plan. It will establish a framework for future decision making based on specific goals and long-term objectives.

“The plan evaluates land use, economic development, public utilities, housing, transportation and more,” Wolfington said. “It will serve as a guide for the city council, Economic Development Authority and community at large.”

 

Major expansions expected

Wolfington said discussions about future needs of the local school and hospital prompted the city to move forward with the planning process.

The Russell-Tyler-Ruthton school building stands at the end of main street in Tyler. Photo courtesy The Tyler Tribute.

Built in 1903, the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (RTR) High School building is deteriorating.

“The city has been hearing concerns about the condition of the school facility. In April of 2017, the council passed a resolution encouraging the RTR School Board to provide a report on the building’s stability, and to either take measures to restore its structural integrity or take other action to ensure public safety,” he said.

In November, the school district provided input to ensure their wants and needs would be addressed in the city’s plan.

Local medical service provider Avera Tyler is also considering new facilities. Avera currently offers home care and hospice, rehab and wellness, and long-term care in addition to health services.

Reporting to the city council in February, Avera Health Regional President Mary Maertens said a new healthcare campus in Tyler could look quite different.

“It will be designed around ambulatory services because healthcare is moving to that type of setting,” she said. “We want to be able to offer procedures locally that can be in and out on the same day. We’ve proved that works and works well.”

 

Timing, public input important

At this point, the plans are conceptual for both the hospital and school. Wolfington believes it’s crucial for the city to use this time wisely.

“In the past, we have traditionally addressed issues as they come up,” he said. “The council has decided that instead of being reactive, we are going to work to be proactive and plan for these things ahead of time.”

Housing has been a concern for many years in Tyler, but the potential for two major expansions added weight and urgency to the council’s discussions.

“Utilities, traffic and location of both the school and hospital are big undertakings, and we want to be ready,” said Wolfington.

Moving forward, the city will work with community stakeholders and residents to collect input.

“We will be meeting with businesses, the school, hospital and other organizations to discuss our intent and to gather information,” he said. “Perhaps there are areas we are overlooking that the community has concerns about. We want to ensure the public is part of this process.”

 

Project funded through partnerships, city

Heartland Customer Relations Manager Steve Moses, left, presents an economic development grant to Tyler City Administrator Robert Wolfington.

A portion of the project will be paid for using the city’s general operating funds. The remaining balance will be covered through partnerships with Avera as well as the city’s wholesale power provider, Heartland Consumers Power District.

“We are grateful to have partners in Avera and Heartland to secure funding for this important project,” Wolfington said. “Their individual contributions are investments in the success of our community.”

Heartland awarded the city a $5,000 economic development grant towards the project.

“It is vital for communities to have a formal plan in place,” said Heartland Director of Economic Development Casey Crabtree. “Development doesn’t just happen. A community needs to have a vision for the future with goals and defined strategies to achieve those goals.”

 

Clear vision moving forward

Wolfington said once the community engagement process is complete, the firm will move forward with developing the city’s vision, goals and objectives.

Further steps include analysis of demographics, existing and future land use, housing, public utilities and transportation. Bolten and Menk will then review and identify strategies for the city’s economic development and sustainability before developing an implementation plan.

Wolfington said the final plan should be released by the end of 2018.

“We expect this plan to give us a clear vision moving forward,” he said. “We believe¬†Tyler has a bright future, and this plan will allow the city to make informed, long-term decisions to help ensure that success.”