MASON CITY — The City Council in Mason City recently received an update on a study looking at the city’s north side. The “Healthy North End Neighborhood Plan” is the end product of more than two years of study, research and community engagement events by local officials and University of Iowa graduate students from the Department of Urban and Regional Planning.
The city’s Director of Development Services Steven Van Steenhuyse says the study shows the negative perception of the North End as a drug and crime infested neighborhood doesn’t hold true when you look at the facts. “It was interesting that when we actually started to look at the numbers, the crime statistics in the North End are not really any worse than other neighborhoods in the city. They’re not the best, but they’re not the worst. One of the things we wanted to do, and what the students really encouraged, was to find a way to reverse that negative perception of the North End, and let people know that not only is it a safe place, but it’s a nice place to be. Many of the residents that the students talked to were very emphatic about how much they loved living there in that it’s not a bad place to be.”
Van Steenhuyse says they are working to restore a neighborhood organization that promotes the North End. “One of the things that was encouraged was revitalizing the North End Neighborhood Partnership, which was very active some years ago. The founders of that have kind of burned out, not really desirous to keeping that going themselves, but we’ve started to identify individuals who want to take that mantle up and keep running with it. Now we even have got some people working with Main Street Mason City in trying to find ways to use some of the streetscape elements we have downtown and extending them into the North End neighborhood.”
Van Steenhuyse says addressing the issue of blighted properties is a key for the city. “One of the things that we intend to do once the Highway 122 project is completed, we are going to prioritize the 122 and 65 corridors for nuisance abatement of any kind of dilapidated homes that need to be fixed or removed. By then, the public realm will have caught up and we’ll be able to justify saying ‘look, you know the taxpayers have done their part, now it’s your turn’.”
The council will consider officially adopting the plan at a future council meeting. You can check out the plan as well as listen back to the council workshop dealing with the North End below
Audio of meeting: