Community Assessment follow-up helps set priorities and possibilities

The priority-setting meeting in Philip on Wednesday evening, December 15, was the follow-up to the Philip community assessment held on October 12-14.

Philip has already begun addressing some issues and is determining what projects can be pursued to solve these issues. Andrea Cook, president of the Haakon Community Library, announced that the generous $50,000 gift from Margaret Durnill was opening doors for library expansion. Opening doors, though, meant “dealing with rusty hinges and going beyond thresholds.” To maximize the benefits of a truly accessible and capable library, Cook said, “There is a long, but exciting, road ahead of us.” Expansion, a possible new location, increasing available hours, satisfying computer and speciality users are all aspects that are making the new Friends of the Library “not quite beggars, but almost.”

Shawn Pritchett, Executive Director of the South Dakota Rural Development Council, presented a lengthy but encouraging overview of the analysis of the team report which can be viewed by going to www.philipsouthdakota .com and clicking on the appropriate link.

Ted Haeder helped with the next stage of the meeting. Haeder is with the South Dakota Department of Tourism and State Development of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Audience members were divided into groups of five to six people to prioritize different plans for the future of Philip. Individuals identified three issues, suggested a project to address each issue, and listed supports and obstacles to each project. The groups pooled each member’s ideas and further discussed the top three group issues. Then, each group explained their ideas, supports and obstacles to the rest of the audience.

Would more housing in Philip bring in more people and create more business in Philip, or would more people and business then necessitate more housing? The two were compared to which came first, the chicken or the egg?

One recurring idea was for the City of Philip or a private developer to have a subdivision platted and utility-ready for modular and stick-built homes. Roadways, drainage, main connections and ordinances could be done in preparation for new or upgrading homeowners. Manufacturers and local contractors are available. Improving existing structures or demolishing unusable ones to make room for new construction would also help address the issue of beautifying Philip, thus helping to draw more people and business.

Another strong issue was to create some kind of outdoor activity and recreation area. A multi-use arena with covered grandstands and permanent utilities was one general project idea. More activities would create more people visiting Philip, thus an increased economy and more need for workers. Each issue connected to another issue.

Pritchett and Haeder made it clear that Philip people and organizations were to take over the leadership role for the details and actualization of any projects. The two noted that not only established Philip leaders attended the meeting, but also people who may want to take on such a role or affect economic development from behind the scenes.

Many resources and advisors are listed in the analysis of the assessment team report that can be seen on the Philip website. Progress reports are gladly being offered from other communities that have done projects, but such projects may or may not work in Philip.

Over 60 people attended this follow-up meeting, which was videotaped and will be aired over local channel 15. The tape will also be available upon request for those who were unable to attend the meeting.