by ADAM GRUENEWALD
Since 2006 Chelsea Alger ensured the continual growth of NYA as community development director.
Last Wednesday marked her last day though as she resumed the same position at Belle Plaine on Monday.
The new job gives Alger the opportunity to continue to focus on growth of towns outside the metro Twin Cities area and also puts her closer to her family in St. Peter, where she also grew up and was a 1994 St. Peter High School graduate.
Her husband, Steve, is activities director and dean of students at the high school, and they have two children, sixth-grader Signe, 12, and first-grader Isaac, 7. Both her and her husbands parents are still in town as well.
“I’m excited to be closer to home,” she said. “As my kids get older and involved in more activities, it will be nicer to be a little closer to home to get there.”
Alger added though NYA staff was always very accommodating as well.
“They are very supportive of family here as well,” said Alger. “Certainly being a little bit closer will be nice. I envision myself living in St. Peter probably for the rest of my life.”
Before taking over for former NYA community development director Rebecca Bowers, who now with the City of Fairbault, Alger worked in similar positions for Jordan, Watertown and Mayer.
She was familiar with NYA though, having interned under NYA’s first community development director Tom Terry as a graduate student at Minnesota State University – Mankato. She also has a BA degree in biology and an accounting degree from Augsburg College.
“I really enjoyed working in Norwood Young America when I interned,” she said. “I was just really excited about the opportunity to come back. I had a good background about the community.”
While at NYA, she was involved with the revision of the comprehensive plan in 2008, as well as entirely redoing the zoning ordinance which had not been updated since the cities merged in 1997.
“We had some challenges in particular because there were not many residential or commercial zoning districts,” she said. “We had noticed a pattern of some development constraints based on the same standards going over several different types of developments. We created some new residential districts that would gear towards the traditional housing versus the newer housing.”
Additionally she has worked with others on the HWY 212 corridor project as well as other developments in the downtown districts. She was involved in securing a grant from the McKnight Foundation in 2008 for land-use studies, leading to the Greenway Corridor Plan.
“It focused on our growth boundaries and taking into account the natural environment lakes we have,” she said. “The intention was as residential development picked up again we had that tool to review and work with developers… Hopefully we’ll create a chain of lakes concept for the community.”
Working as a team with NYA Economic Development Director Christie Rock and City Administrator Tom Simmons as well, created opportunities to bring in Yager, Vickerman and Kwik Trip developments.
Ever present in her mind was to maintain a focus on both sides of 212.
“I wouldn’t say the communities have completely merged yet,” she said. “We had to be cognisant of that piece moving forward with projects. Although we view it as one community, we are aware of the fact some people still view it as separate communities and want to see a balance of efforts happening… We’ve always tried to focus the efforts on projects on where they are needed.”
While eager for the move, she has certainly appreciated her time in NYA.
“The staff has been great and the community members have been great,” said Alger. “I have thoroughly enjoyed the privilege to work in this community. I’ve had a number of people, community members included, that upon learning I was leaving come here and offer me well-wishes… That means a lot to me.”
As of yet NYA has not determined Alger’s replacement or whether the position will be merged with that of departing City Administrator Tom Simmons. In the interim, Municipal Development Group will assist on an as-needed basis.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at firstname.lastname@example.org