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The city of Mound is initiating a planning study for the remaining 3.3 acres of its Harbor District. (Elizabeth Hustad/Laker Pioneer file)

The city of Mound will soon be seeking community input on development plans for the remaining acres of its Harbor District with the goal of having a clear idea up for council review by end of summer.

City council members approved Jan. 12 initiating a planning study that will involve multiple stakeholders in engineering best uses for the 3.3 acres of Harbor District land still owned by the city. 

The Andrews Sisters Trail, Auditors Road and wetlands are not part of the study, although the city has separately been in preliminary discussion with the Department of Natural Resources for improvements around Lost Lake itself. Nothing from these discussions has yet been made public.

Mound is hoping the planning study will help answer the more than 20-year-old question of what to do with its Harbor District, which was designated TIF (Tax Increment Financing) in 2005. 

It will help “determine how to make the best and highest uses of the public spaces” that will surround the eventual cooperative living development approved for the area last year, said Eric Hoversten, Mound city manager. “It is really important that we have a broadly-based, community-sourced effort to figure out what that is.”

Representatives from the New Mound Farmers Market and from neighboring business, as well as members of Westonka Community & Commerce, will be brought into the discussions. A forthcoming public engagement survey will also seek input from the community at large.

Development at the Harbor District hasn’t come easily and has been fraught with its share of debate over the years. Mound Mayor Ray Salazar called it a “hot topic” and an “emotional thing” and said “We don’t want to cut any corners” in figuring out what to do with the acreage.

The newest effort at redevelopment was given momentum last summer when Lifestyle Communities purchased 2.4 acres of the land for construction of a cooperative living complex.

The $700,000 Mound received from the sale will contribute to the area’s overall development, including the planning study, estimated at $25,000. Mound’s longtime consulting partners, Hoisington Koegler Group, will be undertaking the project.

The study is expected to follow a 6-month timeline. A front-end survey will ask for community input while the big stakeholder groups meet with the planning consultants. Fruits of that labor will then come before the Parks and Open Spaces Commission, after which a concept will be put to paper and turned back around for additional public comment.

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