Drawing up Mitchell’s wards

Dive in. Mitchell’s population is headed to the lake.

There are four wards in the city and Ward 4, the one that surrounds Lake Mitchell, is growing, which means it needs to shrink. I’ll explain.

The city is required to keep the four wards as close in population as possible and the Mitchell City Council is working to ensure that happens. Monday night, the council approved an option to take nine blocks from Ward 4 and shift it to Ward 3.

Here’s the story on Monday night’s meeting.

According to the census count from April 2010, there are/were 15,254 people in the city. Each ward has between 3,700 and 3,900 people in it and each ward is represented by two members of the eight-member council.

While Ward 4 is gaining people, Wards 1 and 2 in the southern end of the city remain largely unchanged in population while Ward 3, in northeast Mitchell, is losing population. It seems people want to live by the lake and who can blame them?

City Planner Neil Putnam worked with Mayor Lou Sebert and Finance Officer Marilyn Wilson to draft two options for the revised ward boundaries. Putnam and Wilson also worked on the lines in 2001 after the 2000 census, since it’s that 10-year count that sparks the effort each decade.

Putnam said it seems very likely Ward 4 will continue to gain people as more dwellings, from houses to multi-family units to apartments are constructed in the north end of Mitchell. That means as Ward 4 grows in people, it must get smaller in size.

“So see you in 10 years,” the ever-cheerful Putnam told me after the council meeting. “Mark it down.”