The Crosslake City Council held its first workshop Jan. 11, 2018. We had a jam-packed agenda that included public safety and fire department, public works, planning and zoning, park and rec and economic development.

We also had updates from our most visible Crosslaker projects, including the National Loon Center, connectivity, storm sewer runoff and the development of a Crosslake Area Endowment Foundation.

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And the council and commission members had their first in-depth review of the updated comprehensive plan.

As I was preparing the agenda and because I had been a member of the comp plan update committee, I realized that this agenda began and ended with the comp plan. So, I asked the directors to give a brief history of 2017 in their updates, including goals and objectives for 2018, and to begin preparing for the needs of future growth in Crosslake as visualized in the updated comp plan.

The purpose of the workshop was two-fold.

First, it is typical for us to prepare our annual budgets beginning as early as July. As a result, we tend to get so focused on "next year" that future needs can be overlooked or not addressed. Then, when the time comes to replace or upgrade, we find ourselves in a pickle having forgotten to plan for future needs. For example, our city hall is 22 years old and is in need of some updating. It's simply not as efficient or safe as it should be. And our public works, fire and public safety departments have their supplies stored all over the city.

Issues like these need to be discussed every year so thoughtful decisions can be made on how to address the needs of the city and how this will affect our taxpayers who foot the bill.

Second, the workshop was an opportunity for everyone to hear about the projects that are happening in our community. Pat Netko is working with Tim Bray, county highway engineer, to improve safety on County Highway 66 with additional crosswalks and to provide a more welcoming entrance into our town.

Carla White gave an update on the National Loon Center. Jeff Laurel reported on the progress of the CR 66 storm sewer runoff project. Dean Fitch gave an update on the Crosslake Area Endowment Foundation and presented a new project called "GreenStep City" that the EDA will be recommending for approval at the February council meeting.

Becoming a "GreenStep City" provides opportunities to access additional research, resources and funding that we would not typically know about. This program is free to the city and focuses awareness on sustainable community living.

At some point the city may become involved in one way or another in various community projects, so this was a chance for council and commission members to be better informed and learn how community volunteers can work effectively and accomplish more by working collaboratively with our city council.

The workshop wrapped up with an update on the comp plan from Ashley Kaisershot of the National Joint Powers Alliance and Region 5's Tad Erickson. The council and commission members reviewed the draft document and brought their insight and thought to the plan.

It's also important to note that if you participated in any of the Minnesota Design Team public meetings, filled out a survey from the comp plan committee or participated in a community meeting, your ideas and opinions on a vision for Crosslake's future are likely included. As I've often said, this newly updated plan recognizes that what was important to you 20 years ago is still important today.

The council and commission members now have a better understanding of ongoing community projects, and everyone will have walked away from the workshop with a renewed sense of optimism and energy for the new year and beyond.

Our job as council and commission members is to put community first and strive to make the best decisions through forethought and planning while keeping in mind the people are a communities most important asset!

This article reflects my personal perspectives and opinions and does not necessarily speak for the council as a whole. So if you have questions or concerns with anything said here, stop in at city hall Wednesdays from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. for a cup of coffee or just to chat.