Members of the community joined the Dakotafire Cafe last week to discuss new ways to tackle housing issues in Milbank. Dakotafire Cafe is a series of events intended to spark community and extended-community conversations about important civic and regional topics. The event was sponsored by the Grant County Development Corporation and led by Heidi Marttila-Losure, publisher and editor of Dakotafire magazine, and Joe Bartmann, Vice President of Innovation for Dakota Resources.
“Through Dakotafire and these talks, we hope the community of Milbank will begin to rethink what is happening with its housing and start to imagine what is possible,” explained City Administrator Jason Kettwig in his welcome. “When a community obtains information and creates new ideas, things start to happen and what we hope will begin to take place in Milbank.”
The group aims to keep housing at the forefront of discussions during the next six months to two years in an effort to address this issue. They also plan to create a core team with smaller project teams to take an active role in improving the housing situation.
Bartmann explained the natural flow of housing using a bathtub analogy. “Think of the housing in your community as fitting into one of four bathtubs – sound housing, housing in need of minor repairs, housing in need of major repairs, and dilapidated housing. Without intervention, housing will slide from one category to another.”
“It is going to take a group effort to make a change in Milbank,” stated Bobbie Bohlen, GCDC director. “We need to focus on our community as a whole and not just on one demographic group.” “And we need someone to step up and take a solid lead in this effort,” Kettwig added.
A community-wide meeting will take place as the next step in this process within a few months. No date has been set.