County hears residents on issues

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 20, 2000

LYLE – Next, it will be Grand Meadow’s and LeRoy’s turn.

Monday, November 20, 2000

LYLE – Next, it will be Grand Meadow’s and LeRoy’s turn.

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Lyle has spoken.

Mayor Ron Frank, council member Louis Taylor and Police Chief Forrest Miller told Jeff Carlson what they think are the issues, problems and opportunities in Lyle.

Bill Buckley, Mower County’s environmental health services director, also spoke out as well as David Hillier, Third District Mower County commissioner. Hillier represents the community and rural area around it on the county board.

The scene was a community issues workshop Thursday night. Carlson and his associate, Diana Billings, are holding the workshops for Dahlgren, Shardlow and Urban, a Minneapolis firm of consulting planners and landscape architects retained by the county board to help rewrite the 7-year-old county comprehensive plan.

Two similar workshops will be held 7 to 9 tonight at Grand Meadow and LeRoy.

The workshops are designed to invite county residents, business owners, community organizations and other interested parties to provide Carlson and Billings with input on issues facing Mower County.

The information will help the county update its comprehensive plan in order to deal with issues such as planing and managing urban and non-farm rural growth and to identify appropriate areas for residential, commercial and industrial development.

In addition, the information will be valuable in assisting economic development transportation, housing and the proper location and utilization of community facilities to serve the community’s needs.

Carlson put the five citizens at the Lyle session through a trio of exercises, beginning with an assessment of the strengths and opportunities the community holds.

First mentioned was "people" and the progressive mind set of the Lyle citizenry. Next came the Lyle Public Schools and soon enough Carlson was writing other attributes, including rail service, a new water tower and an improved wastewater treatment facility and more.

Then came a list of weaknesses or threats to the Lyle community. The community’s limited tax base, its proximity to Iowa and its business-relocation incentives, agriculture’s continuing struggles, the dwindling number of volunteers for the Lyle First Responder Squad and the loss of retail businesses were mentioned.

Ironically, being small was considered both a strength and a weakness. While being small in size allows the community to offer its residents the "personal touch," it also restricts what the community can do.

Carlson stressed the importance of citizen input into the review of the county’s comprehensive plan. "If there’s enough input from around the county, then we will have a better idea on how to develop the county’s priorities and with that, programs and ordnances to help address those priorities," Carlson said.

"The more people who can get involved in the process, the more successful we can be," Carlson said.

When Carlson asked the citizens to list organizations, groups and committees important to the function of life in Lyle, the selections were many.

Local Lutheran and Catholic churches were praised for "working together," the public school system and the board of education that oversees it also rated compliments and organizations, such as the American Legion Post, Lions Club, Commercial Club, Lyle and Nevada townships’ boards, 4-H clubs, Lyle Economic Development Authority, Lyle Volunteer Fire Department, Lyle Library Board, Lyle Tourism Committee and the intergovernmental agencies that help Lyle do things it cannot, because it is so small, do by itself quickly filled Carlson’s tally sheet.

Hillier, the county board member, mentioned how the county’s new truancy officer is helping both individual students and their families, as well as the Lyle school district keep kids in school.

Frank noted, "The volunteer spirit in this community is just phenomenal."

Miller advised that socioeconomic changes are happening so fast in the county that "we need to look at where we want to be in five years."

All lamented the restructuring of the formerly family-owned elevator, which had been a popular local grain market and employer of locals as an example of how the community is so dependent upon business or employer.

When the information gleaned from the various community workshops held throughout Mower County is assembled, it will be shared with a Mower County comprehensive plan revision committee appointed to recommend changes to the county board.

The issues must be summarized and land use recommendations analyzed and zoning changes reviewed of what Carlson called a "work in progress."

"What we’re asking you to do," Carlson told the Lyle citizens, "is to help develop a systematic, on-going, forward-looking guide that can be a vision of this county in the future and a help in addressing the opportunities and constraints it faces."