Thomson Township has many strengths, a few weaknesses and plenty of opportunities for improvements, according to residents. Walking trails and schools top the list of strengths.

MSA Professional Services, Inc., a consulting firm based in Duluth, was hired to help the board find what residents want and assemble information for a comprehensive plan. The last comprehensive plan was completed in 1999.

Residents wrote their ideas and opinions on brainstorming boards at the National Night Out event Aug. 6. The majority of attendees at the event were parents with young children.

The public had several other opportunities to be heard. A public meeting was held at the town hall Aug. 8 and a table was set up at Northridge Park at the Esko Days barbecue Aug. 10.

Residents indicated they're satisfied with the sports complex, wildlife, a strong and safe sense of community and proximity to Interstate 35.

They also listed what they see as possible future opportunities for the community. Residents said they would like to see more safe routes to school, extend the current walking trails, improved shoulders on roads, and water access from the school north for residents on Canosia Road. The majority of residents have well water, even in town.

The boards were displayed at Eskos National Night Out and at the Esko Days barbecue for residents to share their thoughts and opinions for a new comprehensive plan in August. There will be more meetings in September and October. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal
The boards were displayed at Eskos National Night Out and at the Esko Days barbecue for residents to share their thoughts and opinions for a new comprehensive plan in August. There will be more meetings in September and October. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal

Another idea presented is attracting businesses near the St. Louis River, such as a boating business or campgrounds.

Stormwater drainage is seen as a weakness of the area, as is lack of I-35 usage, property tax increases, availability of local stores and a lack of child care providers. While there are a few apartment buildings in the community, there are few one-level housing options.

Other concerns listed by residents include too much growth in the small community, lack of community involvement and very limited shopping options in town.

Residents can complete a survey at thomsonesko2040.files.wordpress.com. A slide presentation that shows the timeline is also available on the website. The comprehensive plan will be completed in January.

Some residents think Northridge Park in Esko is under used and would like to see more events held in the park. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal
Some residents think Northridge Park in Esko is under used and would like to see more events held in the park. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal

Upcoming comp plan meetings

There will be a steering committee meeting with the Thomson Township board, planning and zoning committee and the consultants Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the town hall. The consultants will share their initial analysis of the feedback from the community. The meeting is open to the public, but public comments are not allowed at steering committee meetings. Another meeting will be held Oct. 8 at 6:30 p.m.

Residents can ask questions and share feedback during a public meeting Oct. 9 at 6 p.m.