Strong evidence of optimism

Iron River has a list of priorities. Now, city officials will try to make it happen.

Responses to the City of Iron River Master Plan Survey 2014 have been analyzed and a results summary has been announced.

Based on the results, the Iron River Planning Commission now will begin considering goals and objectives for the city in order to plan specific actions and strategies to guide the city’s future.

Much of the focus of the Master Plan will be on types of land use and development throughout the city, reported Jerald Wuorenmaa, planner for Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region (WPPDR).

A survey was available to area residents both online and in print (for pickup at two locations in the community) from Feb. 13 until April 1.

The survey received a total of 202 responses. The response rate among city residents was 3.4 percent.

Respondents were about evenly split between residents of the city and non-residents, Wuorenmaa said.

In general, survey respondents indicated general support for various types of development in the city, including “small commercial,” and “light industrial” development.

Also highly supported were single-family residential development, accommodations, public parks, and cooperation with adjacent communities.

Survey respondents highly supported general growth of the city, with 76 percent in favor and only 2 percent opposed, Wuorenmaa said.

Survey takers also indicated support for growth of various industries in the city.

Most highly favored were retail (with 95.8 percent in favor of “much” or “some” growth), accommodations and food & beverage establishments, and manufacturing.

Least favored were growth in government and mining within the city.

Survey respondents also highly favored incentives for industry, with 73 percent of respondents in favor, Wuorenmaa said.

Respondents were asked to respond to several questions based on neighborhoods designated in a map.

The most “attractive” neighborhood was the area “near southwest” of downtown Iron River, closely followed by downtown itself, Wuorenmaa said.

Respondents also ranked the city’s neighborhoods preferred for various types of development.

For commercial development, downtown scored highest. This was the only type of development for which an overwhelming neighborhood preference was indicated, he said.

“Rural north” scored highest for single-family residential development, “near north” of downtown for multiple-family residential, and the “rural west” for industrial development.

Survey respondents indicated support for various types of development in the city.

Among the most notable findings, Wuorenmaa said 92 percent of respondents favored “small commercial” and 91 percent favored “light industrial” development.

Mixed-use development, which combines multiple land use types on the same site or in the same building, was favored by 65 percent of respondents.

This type of development, best recognized as first-floor businesses with upper-story apartments, is a natural characteristic of older traditional downtowns, Wuorenmaa said.

A compact mix of uses generates a high level of activity and neighborhood self-sufficiency – a lifestyle and environment popular with younger generations, he said.

In general, survey respondents highly supported general growth of the city. Some 76 percent in favor growth while only 2 percent opposed.

Survey takers commented that the people, natural beauty and resources, and desirable location were some of the area’s qualities.

Despite some negative comments, there was strong evidence of optimism and persistence in bettering the city, Wuorenmaa said.