The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

January 15, 2013

Dreams of revitalization dancing in their heads

Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation updates council on current plans, future ideas

OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation is overflowing with ideas of how to revitalize the city, but city councilmen want to make sure the public is involved in the discussion.

In an update to the city council Monday on what’s brewing at ORLF, its president and CEO, Brad Little, said he hopes to create a dialogue, not a monologue, about what they’re trying to accomplish.

As part of ORLF’s strategic plan, Little said he wants the organization to be thoughtful in how it grants its allotted $3 million to $3.5 million. “Before giving one penny away,” he said they want to tackle site visits and studying existing strategic plans.

So far, ORLF staff have visited six Iowa cities, Sterling and Rock Falls, Ill., Suisun City, Calif. and Chattanooga, Tenn.

“These are communities that had experienced some sort of ‘worst of’ moment in their history,” Little said. “They reached some sort of low that they were struggling with and were pulled up by their bootstraps.”

He said ORLF staff have learned best practices from these communities that they can bring back to Ottumwa.

“If there’s anything we’ve learned, it’s that Ottumwans have had a lot of great ideas over the years,” he said of his review of former strategic plans. “For reasons of all sorts ... many were not able to be implemented.”

ORLF hired consultants to compile a report on where Ottumwa stands in terms of infrastructure, streets, buildings and more. They found 15 central themes flowing through every strategic plan they examined, including eliminating one-way streets downtown, expanding Central Park and re-engaging the Des Moines River, among others.

“We’ll take ideas that have shown up over time, put legs to them and see if they have merit,” Little said.

He also said one-on-one conversations are needed throughout the community in order to bounce ideas off each other.

But Councilman Mitch Niner had concerns that there hasn’t been much, if any, public input.

“In the conversations I’ve had with you, you’ve stressed public input, public input, public input,” Niner said. “Have you had any public meetings?”

No, Little said, but ORLF has held meetings with target groups with more “manageable” numbers of 15 to 25 people.

“Our plan is to have a very public meeting at Bridge View in late spring or early summer where we’ll start vetting these [ideas],” Little said.

Niner was also concerned that only downtown was being targeted for revitalization and that the rest of the city would be left behind or ignored.

“There’s a reason why it’s targeted, and we’ve learned best practices from other communities and that’s to celebrate your history,” Little said. “Communities we’ve visited with a river ... that’s where it began. Embrace the river. You need to take the river and maximize that as the focal point of the community.”

He also said it’s important to embrace downtown because “it all starts downtown and then moves out.”

“It doesn’t mean we neglect other parts of the city,” Little said. “Right now, I admit, in black and white we’re focusing on the downtown area and how do we make it a more vibrant and attractive place.”

Little also said he doesn’t want ORLF to morph into the “community checkbook,” where it simply throws money at problems to fix them. He wants the organization to be heavily involved in bettering the community.

“When it’s appropriate,” Little said ORLF will go public with its plans since in the end they will require public support.

Today, Little said ORLF is working with the city on advancing initiatives, including the CDBG facade grant application this month, the CDBG adaptive re-use application in February and the Ottumwa Brownfields Project Team.

The organization has also hired SRF Consulting, of Minneapolis, to complete studies on one-way streets downtown and quiet zones. ORLF is also partnering with Iowa State University’s College of Design on a housing study and a way-finding study next month.

They have also launched a $30,000 micro-loan program and have retained control of the former Capri V Theatre downtown for rehabilitation.

Councilman Brian Morgan suggested that as ORLF continues in its process that it invite all councilmen to join in on the discussion.

“I would like to see us ... be involved in the process,” Morgan said. “As people talk to us, it would be a lot easier for us to ... answer first-hand on a lot of this stuff.”

News from the rest of Monday’s work session will appear online at www.ottumwa.com or in Wednesday’s edition.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 0730 OTT Better Buildings -T -M Wildwood could be your home OTTUMWA — There was always one child per class who just adored school. If they went to Wildwood, they may soon be able to move in permanently. The Ottumwa board of education met Monday, where staff told them where the district stood as far as "facili

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • A changing roster -- for school board OTTUMWA — If the last time you saw your board of education was before Christmastime, the current school board might surprise you. Two members retired from the board: longtime educator Ron Oswalt stepped down, as did board president Carol Mitchell. Bo

    July 29, 2014

  • Lottery sales top $3 million mark

    OTTUMWA — Mother Nature may have thrown Iowans a brutal winter, but it didn’t stop them from venturing out to buy lottery tickets. On Tuesday, the Iowa Lottery confirmed that it had topped the $3 million mark in sales for the third consecutive year.

    July 29, 2014

  • halo-5-guardians-concept_wallpaper-1920x1080-53cf9b0098ea45ada37dc0f66bc174f5.jpg The Art of Kong

    OTTUMWA — The Mona Lisa. Whistler's Mother. Donkey Kong? Don't be so surprised, said Walter Day, that video games and the surrounding memorabilia are being considered art. The creativity and artistic vision required to create a poster, said the found

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Slideshow: Truck overturns on roundabout

    July 28, 2014

  • 0729 OTT Picture veteran -T -M Veteran finally receives his medals OTTUMWA — A World War II injury may have saved the life of a U.S. Coast Guardsman from Iowa, but he lost friends and a box of military awards. Francis Hardy Harbour was born on Dec.16, 1919, in Drakesville. He joined the Coast Guard in 1941 as a mach

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Seasonal forecast Cool summer leading to cool fall? OTTUMWA — By late July, the average daytime high temperature starts to drop. What is normally the hottest part of the year is over. Averages are still in the mid-80s, and it certainly wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see days in even the upper 90s.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • IHCC buildings.jpg Grant helps Hills keep students on track

    OTTUMWA — Thanks to a grant designed to improve graduation rates, Indian Hills Community College now has even more tools in its campuswide effort to help students with needs and give them the resources they need to stay in class. Indian Hills is one

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0728 OTT ribs in eldon BBQ dinner with a hundred friends

    ELDON --- This year's Eldon Rib Cook-off was won by three BBQ chefs --- and about 150 hungry visitors. "I was down here last year, too," said Dwayne Yates from Floris, who was biting into his third smoked rib. "I never had a bad one yet." That's what

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mediacom: Rural cable consumers and companies mistreated OTTUMWA --- You may want to add just a racing channel, a court channel or a nature channel to your cable line up. Unfortunately, you'll probably have to buy a "bundle," which, ironically, is what it will cost you here in Wapello County. That's accord

    July 26, 2014

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook