When the program first launched in 2005, the city offered 80 lots on about 50 acres at the edge of town, paid for through donations and grants. About 30 families moved onto the lots in the first few years, including Susan McDonald and her husband. "She noted that the move to Marquette wasn't just about the free land. She was impressed by the tightly knit community and its walkability," Vickers reports for the Kansas City station. There are more than 30 free lots remaining.
|Marquette, Kansas, in McPherson |
County (Wikipedia map)
Steve Piper, mayor when the city first had the idea, said it was driven by fears that the local school district, with its dwindling number of students, would have to consolidate with a nearby town. That happened anyway, but Piper and others still consider the program a success, and say it's an example of one way small towns can get creative in boosting their populations.
"Every town can't do the same thing we did," local banker Allan Lindsfors told Vickers. "But everyone can find something that's unique about their town. Small towns don't have to die."