Columbus gauges need for senior housing

EDA spends $2,500 for study

Paul Rignell
Columbus Reporter

Columbus City Council members have voted to spend $2,500 in Economic Development Authority funds to determine the city’s need for construction of senior housing options.

As they have reached or kept maturing toward retirement age, most residents have chosen to stay in Columbus, according to city staff.

“Your population has aged over the last 30 years,” City Administrator Elizabeth Mursko told the council Jan. 23.

Maxfield Research, based in Minneapolis, will conduct a preliminary study to assess needs for new senior housing including apartments for independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing. The process is not expected to go further in 2013 unless Maxfield’s report shows need for 50 or more units designed for any level of care.

Columbus last reviewed demographics in 2004, as a township. Data showed any need then would not have reached 25 units.

Under current city code, senior housing is allowed by conditional use permit in the commercial or retail zones. Mursko explained previously that research shows seniors desire proximity to businesses for shopping or other errands.

Councilmember Bill Krebs said the city has taken a good step by ordering this study. “We’ve got to start being a little proactive,” he said.

Repair Clinics

Council reviewed a citizen request that the city consider sponsoring “fix-it clinics” where community volunteers with a knack for being handy might help neighbors and other residents to fix broken electronics or other home goods for restored use.

The programs have become popular in Hennepin County, where the Columbus resident who made the request shared there are clinics scheduled one Saturday each month through June including at the Brookdale Library Feb. 9 and later at locations in Minneapolis, Plymouth and Bloomington.

Columbus Mayor Dave Povolny expressed hesitation for his city government to get involved with such a program, stating it could take away business and revenue from private citizens who repair goods for their livings.

“I don’t know. I would probably say no,” the mayor said, if he were asked to make a decision. He noted Councilmember Krebs fixes cars for a living. “If we could fix all the cars around here, then Bill wouldn’t have any work.”

Deputy Clerk Emmy Robinson reported she knew representatives of Anoka County and the city of Andover were planning to attend and survey one of the Hennepin County clinics. Columbus officials agreed to wait for a report from that visit.

Board Vacancy

City staff will take applications through Friday, Feb. 8, for an opening on the city’s Planning Commission, which advises the City Council on matters concerning zoning and development.

The city is looking to fill a term through December 2015. The commission meets at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays each month. The seat is open to residents, or to non-residents who have ownership in a Columbus business.