Housing meeting outlines next steps

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

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About 35 intrepid De Smet area residents braved the weather Sunday to attend a community meeting sponsored by the De Smet Development Corporation.


The meeting was designed as the first step in facilitating a community-based push through a series of housing roadblocks the city has met each time it has attempted to lure new residents to De Smet.


“I don’t want to say this is a last-ditch effort,” said Mayor Gary Wolkow. “But we’ve gone through meeting after meeting and haven’t gotten anywhere.”


Sunday’s 3 p.m. meeting ran like a workshop, moderated by coach Joe Bartmann from the Home Address team hired to help De Smet with its housing problems. “Nothing matters more than the wisdom in this room for getting to the bottom of this for De Smet,” Bartmann said.


Participants were first asked to write their own agenda, then divided into small groups to discuss the issues they had just designated as most important.


The major result of the day’s activities was the formation of a series of committees aimed at more detailed analysis and potential resolution of several issues that bubbled to the surface in the course of the meeting. Attendees signed up for further participation in these committees at a large board created for that purpose.


One of the more substantial committees was formed to plan and oversee placement of city sewer infrastructure in some lots north of town that could be used for potential development. Another was formed to look into creating a subcommittee of the existing De Smet housing authority that would facilitate recruitment and placement of new subsidized housing projects.


Several other committees were formed to look into upscale retirement housing, starter and finisher homes, three-bedroom apartments and creating a centralized place where potential residents could go to find available housing.


Finally, after three hard hours of deliberation, attendees convened to school cafeteria to eat some well-earned soup.


Development corporation president Tim Aughenbaugh praised the efforts of meeting attendees and said, “If our community has shown anything, it is that as more people become involved, the ideas become better. We have a lot of momentum after the community center project, and housing is one of the last remaining pieces.”


David Tritle


The De Smet News

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