Brainerd council sets city goals for coming years

The goals, which the council formally approved Monday, Aug. 3, will fulfill requirements of the city’s performance framework for the pay-for-performance model by tying goals to staff accomplishments.

Brainerd City Hall Spring 2020 2.jpg
Brainerd City Hall on April 8, 2020. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Staff at the city of Brainerd have clear goals in areas such as housing, economic development, community character and parks and recreation to propel them forward for the next few years.

Council members deliberated goals during a work session July 13 after department heads completed a survey based on goals laid out in the city’s new comprehensive plan.

The goals, which the council formally approved Monday, Aug. 3, will fulfill requirements of the city’s performance framework for the pay-for-performance model by tying goals to staff accomplishments.

City Administrator Jennifer Bergman reminded the council these are ambitious goals aimed to be completed in a little over two years.

Land use

Goal: Support mixed-use development focused on integration instead of separation of land uses.



  • Update city ordinances to reflect the changes in the plan.

  • Create policies that promote infill development and redevelopment, which means building new housing on land already equipped to support it.

Goal: Maintain the unique identity of the city and all the appropriate land uses that support it.


  • Develop new planning documents.

  • Identify locations for special use districts or overlays.

Goal: Support and invest in the incremental enhancements of quality of life.


  • Formalize a downtown association.

  • Take active steps to complete the MN Greenstep Cities program.

Community character

Goal: Preserve and repurpose historic assets.


  • Boost enforcement of city codes and ordinances.

  • Develop a downtown beautification program.

Goal: Enliven the community through intentional community design.


Strategies include:

  • Improve citywide signage.

  • Leverage social media to market opportunities and existing success stories.

  • Integrate public art through the community.

  • Evaluate pilot programs that improve walkability.

Goal: Enhance the city’s unique identity where the appropriate blend of historic and modern structures coexists.

Strategy: Undergo a marketing and branding initiative.


Goal: Provide a diverse mix of housing choices for all stages of life, income ranges and ownership/rental preferences.

Strategies include: Ensuring local land use controls and permitting procedures do not discourage housing development.

Goal: Encourage the preservation and historical significance of existing neighborhoods.

Strategy: Seek ways to encourage mixed use development in and around Brainerd where appropriate.

Goal: Ensure quality living conditions for all residents.


Strategy: Use targeted incentives to catalyze improvements within neighborhoods.


Goal: Maintain, develop and adapt a dynamic multimodal transportations system within Brainerd to accommodate all users.


  • Implement the walkable/bikeable city plan.

  • Host yearly Streets Alive events, which promote active transportation — walking and biking — as opposed to motor vehicles.

Goal: Continue to work with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, federal and state agencies, neighboring cities, the private sector, residents and other partners to improve the mobility network in the region.

Strategy: Prioritize the maintenance of the existing transportation network and only expand thoughtfully and strategically.

Goal: Elevate consideration of other modes of transportation, such as public transit, bicycles and pedestrians, to the same level as automobile users.


  • Extend and increase the capacity of roadways that enhance circulation, mobility and anticipated growth and development.

  • Identify and study pedestrian and bicycle improvements.

Economic development

Goal: Support infill and redevelopment throughout Brainerd as a strategic component of growth.


Strategy: Keep a log of blighted or vacant properties.

Support the workforce and help them thrive:

Strategy: Collaborate with partners to address industry workforce needs.

Goal: Help local businesses grow and attract new businesses in neighborhoods, along main corridors and downtown.

Strategies include:

  • Explore business improvement district options for downtown.

  • Budget funds for economic development and marketing.

  • Support businesses that promote entrepreneurship and small businesses.

Parks and recreation

Goal: Maintain quality parks that meet the recreational needs of a variety of users.

Strategies include:

  • Incorporate maintenance and improvement costs into future park system decisions.

  • Enhance safe walking and cycling routes.

Goal: Collaborate with community partners to maximize the value and impact of parks.


Strategies include: Seeking revenue-generating sources within the parks and facilities.

Goal: Seek ways to expand event programming for each park to highlight the unique qualities of each neighborhood.

Strategy: Work with artists to integrate public art into parks.

Facilities and infrastructure

Goal: Improve the overall image of the city.

Strategy: Ensure adequate infrastructure is provided to areas targeted for growth.

Goal: Preserve the history and small-town feel of Brainerd.

Strategy: Prioritize infrastructure investments within existing neighborhoods and potential areas of growth.

Goal: Provide quality water, power and wastewater systems that support new and existing development and redevelopment while being adaptive to change.


Strategies include:

  • Continue to research and explore methods for funding options.

  • Encourage the use of stormwater best management practices to improve local and regional water quality.

Public safety

Goal: Protect and provide for the safety of residents and visitors.


  • Continually seek to eradicate crime through innovative and contemporary strategies.

  • Fill vacant police officer positions.

Goal: Evaluate and improve Brainerd’s emergency management.

Strategy: Promote and expand existing programs for businesses to voluntarily share closed circuit security camera footage with law enforcement.

Goal: Continue to seek out and foster partnerships to better prepare the public and city staff for emergencies and natural disasters.


  • Continue to work with the school district in current and long-range planning efforts.

  • Continue partnerships and programs with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, such as Safe Routes to School and Towards Zero Deaths.

Natural resources

Goal: Protect and preserve waterways, wetlands and wooded areas and identify threats to native species within and around the city.

Strategies include:

  • Develop a best management practice guide or education series around water quality.

  • Clearly identify greenways and corridors that should be preserved.

Goal: Increase access to open space.

Strategies include: Reviewing and revising subdivision ordinances and design guidelines to reflect the content of the comprehensive plan.

Brainerd City Council Aug. 3
Brainerd City Council and staff members discuss matters during a virtual WebEx meeting Monday, Aug. 6. Screenshot by Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

Council feedback

“This is looking a lot better,” Council President Gabe Johnson said, “and I hope this helps you, Jennifer (Bergman), and your next quarterly talk and reviewing the department heads and when the council’s reviewing you because at our last one there was a lot of real vague ideas, and it’s good to get some things written down where we can identify specific goals that we’re working towards. So this is moving in the right direction.”

Bergman said she will give the council quarterly progress updates.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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