Housing one of McCook's greatest needs

Saturday, March 10, 2007

It takes a lot of things to make a successful town.

Businesses where people can work to make a living and buy the things they need.

Utilities to provide heat, light and water, and to carry waste water away.

Paved streets that are passable most of the time.

Police and fire departments, emergency and routine medical care and dental care.

Educational services ranging from pre-school to college.

Bars and beauty salons, churches and restaurants. Nursing homes and funeral homes.

Entertainment and communications.

The list goes on and on, and the more the years progress, the more products and services we expect to have as part of our community.

In case you didn't notice, however, we haven't mentioned the most basic needs, a need that was among the first addressed by McCook's earliest settlers.

That's the need for adequate, comfortable housing.

If McCook is to continue to meet the needs of current residents and grow to include a larger population, it must be able to meet those housing needs.

That's why the McCook Economic Development Corp. is taking the lead in updating the McCook Community Housing Study, which was last completed in 1997.

According to Tim Keelan of Hanna:Keelan, which is conducting the update, McCook's current, overall adjusted housing vacancy rate is about 4.6 percent.

Surprisingly, that isn't enough. Keelan says it should be closer to 7 percent to provide choices for current and future residents.

"A community such as McCook needs to have ample housing types available, at all times, for all sectors of the community, including singles, older adults, families and special populations," Keelan said. "Recently, McCook has done an excellent job meeting this challenge, but today and tomorrow, this challenge remains."

Do you agree? Do you have other special concerns or ideas about housing in Nebraska's Hot Spot?

The MEDC and Hanna:Keelan are providing a special opportunity for you to be heard.

A series of Community Housing Forums with the general public are set for 7 p.m. Thursday and 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Heritage Senior Center, 1312 W. Fifth in McCook.

MEDC Executive Director Rex Nelson is urging the public to attend one of these forums.

"One of our goals is to develop housing for our growing workforce, and we need the input of the public in order to achieve that goal," Nelson said.

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