When the newly formed Housing Committee met, Wednesday, June 4, an open discussion was held about Clintonville’s housing situation.
Mary-Beth Kuester is the chairwoman of the committee. Other committee members present included Bob Seaman, Gerry O’Connor, Stephanie Hintz, and Lennie Purull.
Kuester told the committee that when she ran for city council people expressed to her that the city has not grown.
“We’ve had great growth in the Industrial Park but actually the population has not grown,” Kuester said.
She added that she had spoken to O’Connor about the housing in Clintonville and he indicated there are a number of vacant homes available but many are not suitable for what families want today.
An open discussion followed, where committee members expressed their concerns and ideas for possible solutions.
O’Connor said it won’t be easy to figure out, but the city must do what it can to help the situation.
“I’m proud of this city myself, and I think we have to keep working on things like this because if indeed we do keep working on it something will come out of it,” O’Connor said.
He said a starting point would be identifying the needs of residents. He mentioned that in the past a survey was conducted.
“We’re kind of a unique little town,” O’Connor said. “We’re big enough to be second or third in Waupaca County but yet again, we’re still small.”
City Administrator Lisa Kotter said Clintonville’s biggest disadvantage is the cost of its housing stock.
Seaman added that the turmoil in Clintonville isn’t helping to encourage people to move to the city.
Hintz shared some of the information she had gathered prior to the meeting. She told the committee the city has to make people want to move to Clintonville, and at the same time keep the current residents living in the city.
She also recommended researching what is working in other cities having success with their housing.
Purull said as residents get older they want to spend less time doing maintenance on their residence and more time doing other things.
O’Connor reiterated that the housing market in the city needs to be dissected.
“Our population is small here in the city of Clintonville but in a 10 mile radius there is 28,000 people living here. They actually contribute to the city of Clintonville too,” O’Connor said.
Seaman brought up shopping, and how it is easy to travel to other communities to shop. He added that as people get older, though, the less they want to travel to shop. Kuester said most items residents need are available in Clintonville.
Discussion returned to conducting a survey. O’Connor said he thought it would be a good idea to do one again. He said once you figure out what residents want, then the city can figure out how to get those things.
Kotter mentioned that an alderman had expressed interest in having a community-wide planning report done, and this might be a good opportunity to include housing information in that report.
Seaman asked who will buy the $19,000-$30,000 homes that are for sale in the city. He also asked where those who are selling those homes are moving to.
O’Connor said some of those homes are vacant. He added that some of those homes are being bought by investors and rented.
Kuester added that she has found that shared driveways are an issue, as well as small garages.
O’Connor said he didn’t see a problem selling the available houses in Clintonville.
“We want to grow our population. We want to give people what they want. I think we have to know what that is,” O’Connor said.
Contacting a local college to help conduct a survey was discussed. If a survey is done, Hintz recommended having a public information meeting prior to the release of the survey.