‘Survey says? – Wadena’s future is up to you!’

Led by Lillian Norman and the Wadena Development Authority, a group of residents and community leaders are looking at the future of Wadena and the needs of the community through a survey of locals.

The wooden playset at Tapley Park dates back to June 2011 and is set to be replaced once enough funds are raised to buy a new structure.
Wadena Pioneer Journal file photo

WADENA — The public is invited to join the effort to shape Wadena’s future. The Wadena Development Authority (WDA) created a survey it would like area residents to fill out by the end of May.

“We're trying to figure out community priorities and where the city and specifically the WDA should focus energy moving forward, and how we can also develop an identity for the town as well,” said Lillian Norman of the WDA.

Efforts are underway to develop a Creative Community Plan in Wadena. Led by Norman and the WDA, a group of residents and community leaders are looking at the future growth of Wadena and the needs of the community.

“Through the survey, we're trying to understand what resources the community is currently tapping into, how they find out about any creative or community resources, any barriers they're facing to accessing them and anything they would be interested in the future,” Norman said.

The goal is to create a plan for the future to ensure a vibrant community where everyone’s voices are heard and residents prosper, according to a news release about the survey. Community members are encouraged to share ideas of projects that they would like to see in the area, or priorities that they think the city should have in mind. The recommendations can include arts, events, healthy lifestyle options, job creation, infrastructure needs, such as walking trails or housing, and more.


“That's kind of where the Wadena identity question comes in, is how do we promote the town and what do current residents see as, like, the strength of the town?” Norman said.

The survey is about 30 questions and takes about 10 minutes to complete. Most of the questions are straightforward and multiple-choice, although there are a few that require a short answer.

“There have been strategic plans by the WDA before … and the same thing for the city, where they’ve established goals and other things to accomplish in the community, but there hasn't really been any focus on creativity or arts and culture in town," Norman said. “And then, as far as I can find, there also hasn't been a broad community outreach to see what community members have wanted and been interested in. That doesn't say there hasn't been one. I just haven't been able to find one.”

Lillian Norman headshot
Lillian Norman
Contributed / Lillian Norman

Norman said she came up with the survey in collaboration with representatives from local organizations such as the Five Wings Arts Council and the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center.

“We hope to get the plan developed within a year,” Norman said. “After we get the survey results, we'll continue on … which will most likely be interviews and community engagement events … and we'll develop strategies based on the priorities that we've identified.”

There are surveys available online and in print. Print surveys are available at the Wadena City Office, 222 Second St. SE, and online at . The deadline to complete and turn in the surveys is the end of May.

“It will be primarily used as a guiding tool as recommendations for the city and the Development Authority,” Norman said of the survey. “We do hope in the future to get it adapted as an addendum to the comprehensive plan of the city of Wadena so it'll be more codified.”

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The weekly newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
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