Wisconsin News

Survey gives residents voice for city outlook

Onalaska surveys citizens for their 20-year comprehensive plan

Survey gives residents voice for city outlook

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) - The city of Onalaska is asking for help from residents. A survey was sent out asking residents how they feel about the city now and what direction they would like to see the city go in over the next 20 years.

Every 10 years the city of Onalaska asks residents for thoughts about their community. Questions include opinions on the city government, economic development and natural resources. Once the surveys are in, they help shape the foundation of Onalaska's 20-year plan.

No one knows what Onalaska will look like in 20 years, but residents can share their opinion of what they would like see by filling out a simple survey.

"We do base all the planning we do all year long on what's in this comprehensive plan," Joe Chilsen, Onalaska mayor, said.

Feedback from the survey will help city officials develop a 20-year comprehensive plan. The city will then use this plan to make decisions for the community in the future.

"It's critical in the fact that it will help guide new development. Where new sub-divisions go, where we want to focus our energies on economic development, that all feeds into this comprehensive plan," Brea Grace, city of Onalaska land use and development director, said.

The survey was last sent out in 2005, but city officials said Onalaska has changed a lot since then.

"Onalaska's experienced a lot of growth over the years and it's been continued growth since then. The economy has changed quite a bit since 2005, so it will be interesting to get people's take on where we want to proceed in the next 20 years," Grace said.

Chilsen said it's important to ask residents for their opinion because they offer the city a different perspective.

"I think getting the view of the people is so important because we don't operate in that mind frame. Citizens are coming at the city from a completely different angle than we do. So we need to kind of step into their heads a little bit," Chilsen said.

He said the comprehensive plan is used nearly everyday in his office to make sure the city is staying on track.

"The old idiom in business is 'failing to plan is planning to fail' and we certainly want to keep that from happening," Chilsen said.

One of the questions on the survey asks, "If you could change one thing in the city of Onalaska, what would it be?" Officials mentioned they're looking forward to reading the wide variety of responses that question will bring.

Residents have until April 25 to return the survey. They can drop it off at any city drop box or at city hall. The survey is also available online at the city's website.

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