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Village Vision News

Board talks Prairie Winds development as way to attract new families

Thursday, February 11, 2016

For several months now the current board has had discussions about how to attract new families to town to make Forsyth their home. The centerpiece of that discussion has been a piece of land near Maroa-Forsyth Grade School that’s known as Prairie Winds.

It’s an old discussion dating back years, but the essence of the conversation is the same: How does the village go about providing affordable housing options for young families interested in moving to the village?

Trustee Bob Gruenewald began the conversation at the Jan. 18 board meeting.

“Since I joined this board I’ve thought we need to do something to attract residents to the village,” Gruenewald said.

“Prairie Winds makes the most sense.”

Gruenewald noted that very few homes have been built in the village in the last two years, adding that attracting new retailers would require showing growth not stagnation.

“If you want to come here, you better find someone selling their house,” he said. “Right now it’s too costly for young families to come here.”

Trustee Jim Peck shared Gruenewald’s opinion.

“I’m in total agreement,” Peck said. “There’s no place for a $150,000 to $225,000 home for a young family. With lots priced at $65,000, that could be a $400,000 home, and that’s not affordable for a young family.”

Since no developer has shown an interest in the project yet, Peck has indicated an interest in finding out what the cost would be to develop a starter home in the area.

Trustee Kerstin Trachtenberg cautioned about the village getting into the land development business.

“We’re not developers,” Trachtenberg said. “What if we put a park (as part of a residential development) on a piece of prime real estate?”

Trustee David Wendt added that he, too, was hesitant about the village getting into the development business.

“My concern is spending taxpayer money,” Trachtenberg said. “We have to be careful; this is a very expensive undertaking.”

Village Administrator David Strohl said that one quote he had received for adding infrastructure such as streets, storm and sanitary sewers, water and a retention pond was in the $3.5 million range.

Gruenewald and Peck said they were in favor of controlled growth. Gruenewald said 10-15 homes would not be unreasonable, with Peck adding that he envisioned adding 200-500 people over the next decade.

Strohl said that after appraisals in 2004, 2008 and 2010, in addition to the completion of an archaeological study, he was seeking direction on how to proceed with regard to the property.

A big part of the discussion was also about whether to include a park in development plans if they move forward.

For now, staff will investigate multiple options for the development.

“This is about the future of the village,” Peck said.

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