The New Richmond City Council held its monthly work session Monday night, May 23. 

Strategic plan

City Administrator Noah Wiedenfeld may have added another potentially challenging project to his already packed dance card Monday night when he introduced council members to the idea of putting together a strategic plan for the City. 

For many municipalities, a strategic plan is fundamental to effective governing. A well-conceived strategic plan provides a framework that can help a City distill its core values, identify short and long-term goals and objectives, construct action plans to assign responsibility and accomplish those goals and objectives and design measurable outcomes to evaluate progress all in service of a communal vision that keeps the City moving forward. 

Typically plans span anywhere from 4-5 years up to 10 years and if exercised properly are revisited at least annually. 

“This will depend on how much time and energy the Council wants to put into it. It should act as a living, breathing document that gets reviewed regularly,” said Wiedenfeld.

Council members appeared to have varying degrees of experience with strategic planning and although they acknowledged and endorsed the need for a plan, they were undecided about the scale, detail and cost to expend on the process.

“We need a consensus of where we want to go with this. I think there's a lot of things we can do at a cheap price and I think there are some big vision things that we need to start talking about, the library being one of them … A vision of the future is something we need to do. We need to listen to as many people as we can whether it's through the internet, facebook or sit down meetings. We need to know as much as we can to sculpt our future,” alderman Craig Kittel said. 

Alderman Mike Montello moved to direct staff to put together a proposal that focuses on next steps without committing a lot of dollars to get the process started. 

The motion passed unanimously. 

Freedom Park Center 

Administrator Wiedenfeld briefed council members on the progress expected to be made on the Freedom Park Center construction project this summer including the extension of public water/sewer to the site, pouring of the foundation and footings and continued work on Freedom Park Trail.

“This summer is focused on the extension of public utilities, installation  of the building footings and frost walls, backfilling the foundation, continued work on the trail that goes around the perimeter of the park and fund raising for the project. The focus in 2023 is completion of the actual building itself,” Wiedenfeld said. 

Troops are expected to start arriving the first week of June and work in two week shifts essentially through the middle of July. Deployment numbers will begin with around 20 soldiers at the start to as many as 200 soldiers at the peak of the deployment. 

Freedom Park Center is a 16,000 sq. ft. combination Veterans Center, Senior Center, Parks and Community Center is being built by VFW Post 10818 New Richmond/St.Croix County.  

Labor for the project is being provided through the use of the U. S. military’s Innovative Readiness Training program (IRT). 

IRT is a partnership program between community organizations and the military. The IRT mission provides real-world training opportunities for service members and units to prepare them for their wartime missions while simultaneously providing quality services to communities throughout America.

The work this summer will be carried out by the 612th Engineering Det. out of Duluth, MN. 

Total Excavation will be working in partnership with the troops overseeing the utility work and Derrick Construction will be working in the same capacity overseeing the construction.  

The unusual nature of the project requires each party’s responsibilities to be spelled out specifically.

An amendment to the original Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the VFW and the City reclassified the project as a private project which allowed the VFW to contract with the U.S. Military without going through a bidding process. It will also allow, but not obligate, the City to purchase the completed building at a later date for $200,000.

The VFW is currently awaiting state approval for extension of the water/sewer service. Once that is received, the City will create a temporary construction easement, issue a footing/foundation only building permit, secure a financial guarantee (letter of credit or third party escrow) for public improvements from the VFW and execute an initial development agreement. 

That agreement will spell out that the City is not responsible for project costs associated with the utility extension or building footings/foundation. The VFW will be responsible for paying contractors and all costs of materials, equipment, inspections, erosion control, portable toilets, etc.

Next Steps 2023 or 2024 

The VFW will need to submit and get approved building plans by the State of WIsconsin. Once those plans are approved, they can apply for a building permit from the City. They will need to provide those building plans, an updated site plan that incorporates the recommendations made by the Plan Commission at their initial review and approval and proof of payment of any fees including impact fees and electric extension costs.  

The City can then issue a building permit. 

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