by Dennis Dalman
For 19 years, until July 2019, Anita Archambeau worked for the City of Sartell as community development director and assistant city administrator, and now she’ll work for the city again, this time as a consultant.
Archambeau will create a “Mill Property Master Plan and Redevelopment Strategy” for the former paper-mill site and possibly also for the mill’s former landfill site. The goal of that plan is to make the site ready and market it for development(s) that would enhance the city.
Archambeau is the owner and chief consultant of AME Public Sector Solutions & Strategies in Lemont, Ill., a suburb of southwest Chicago. The Sartell City Council has agreed to approve a consultancy proposal from Archambeau.
The paper mill, a virtual bedrock landmark of Sartell for a century, closed permanently in 2012 after a fire and explosion killed an employee and damaged the facility, after which its owner, Verso Paper, decided to shut it down completely. Most everything on the site was demolished by a company that bought it and then recycled much of the waste. The city now owns the large site on the east side of the river.
During her nearly two decades as a city-staff member in Sartell, Archambeau developed extensive knowledge of the paper mill and its value to the city.
“The (paper) mill property is near and dear to me,” Archambeau stated in her proposal. “Now that the city has control of the property, we can build on the years of prior work to move forward with a master plan and redevelopment strategy to turn this property into a community asset.”
In the 10 years since the mill’s demise, there has been much talk and debate about what kind of development should happen at the empty site.
In her proposal, Archambeau wrote these words: “After the collapse or departure of a local manufacturer, it’s common for their former grounds to remain vacant for years or decades. Not only is there difficulty in finding a new developer, but there also can be severe environmental and regulatory obstacles to putting the location back to use. The severity of these issues often dissuades developers from taking on the task. Effective and timely master planning of the property, along with a solid strategy and vision adopted by the Planning Commission and City Council, will eliminate an element of risk to future developers of the former mill property.”
In the coming months, Archambeau will work with the city via Zoom meetings and possibly with some in-person visits as she develops the master plan. With lots of input from city residents, she will consult with the city council, city staff, engineers and others to discover exactly what they would most like for a new use at the empty site. That way, the city could rest assured any development would be good for the city, and the master plan would be the basis for marketing specifically for what the city wants.
Archambeau will work out a plan that includes a vision and goals, and elements to include guidelines, design concepts, infrastructure needs, zoning regulations, environmental considerations and more. She will network not just with city officials and residents but with other relevant agencies – local, state and federal – including funding sources that could help a developer and the city with a new use for the paper-mill site.
The council might also decide to enlist Archambeau’s help in a master development/marketing plan for a landfill area once owned by the paper mill. Now owned by the city, the landfill is a 167-acre site along Fourth Avenue South.
The master-plan project for the paper-mill site, Phase I and II, will cost up to $33,000. The cost would come from the city’s Property Development Capital Fund.
Before founding her own consulting firm in Lemont, Ill., Archambeau did extensive planning and development projects for the city of Collierville, Tenn.
She has a bachelor’s degree in political science and community studies from St. Cloud State University, a master’s degree in urban planning from Minnesota State University (Mankato) and a doctorate degree in public administration from Hamline University (St. Paul).