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Citizen participation in surveys will help guide Mason City’s future

Downtown Mason City
MASON CITY – Mason City residents are encouraged to take part in several surveys being conducted by the University of Iowa. These surveys are part of the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable communities.

For University of Iowa students involved in a variety of projects in Mason City as part of the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities (IISC), public engagement and public input help ensure that their work meets the needs of the local community. In fact, many of the projects depend on input that reflects the diverse perspectives from a cross-section of residents, businesses, and community leaders.

“The University of Iowa students are gathering input from residents and businesses that will have an impact on community development efforts throughout Mason City, as well as assist with decision-making,” said Steven Van Steenhuyse, director of Mason City’s Development Services Department. “Input from our residents is essential to the success of the projects and initiatives being done in partnership with the IISC.”

Van Steenhuyse, along with Tricia Sandahl, Planning and Zoning manager for the City, serves as a community coordinator for the yearlong partnership with IISC.

IISC projects in progress include an update to the City’s comprehensive plan, a community-wide sustainability plan, two environmental & civil engineering projects, a community-based mobile app, flooding risk assessment, public art, public transit marketing, and a civic engagement campaign.

City officials are encouraging residents and businesses in Mason City to provide input on projects by attending open houses, participating in focus groups, and completing surveys. Three surveys are currently available online that seek input from the public about sustainability, public transit, and citizen engagement. Links to the online surveys are listed below:

As the civic engagement campaign suggests, Mason City officials hope to see an increase in public participation that helps move toward a unified vision for the community – civic engagement that continues long after the projects are complete. One aspect of the civic engagement campaign involves encouraging residents to serve on local government boards and commissions.

Residents can learn more or can provide input by contacting the Mason City Development Services Department at 341.421.3626 or

Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities
The Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities is a campus-wide, engaged learning program housed in the Provost’s Office of Outreach & Engagement at the University of Iowa. The IISC pursues a dual mission of enhancing the sustainability of Iowa’s communities while transforming teaching and learning at the university. The IISC is currently completing partnerships with the East Central Intergovernmental Association and the City of Mason City. To view past partnerships and projects visit

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