Archived Story

Vision 2020 releases top 30 ideas

Published 10:20am Thursday, January 12, 2012

Austin has fine-tuned its list of big ideas.

Vision 2020 organizers released the community’s top 30 ideas Thursday. The Idea Selection Committee will research these ideas and decide the top 10 some time in March.

“I’m really excited about this,” said Laura Helle, executive director of the Hormel Historic Home and Vision 2020 organizer.

Helle said the committee will examine the ideas and specify how those ideas will look in Austin. For example, committee members may look at the “Best Schools K-12” idea and write specific goals Austin Public Schools needs to achieve by 2020 to make that idea come true. There are a few themes in the top 30 ideas, such as downtown retail development and water usage, that committee members may combine into one idea.

“It’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s going to be worth it,” Helle said.


The top 30 ideas:
—Clean lakes — Mill Pond & East Side Lake for swimming and fishing.
—Cedar River recreation — Access to and clean up Cedar River for recreation, kayaking, tubing, canoeing, fishing, recreational activities, including rentals.
—Downtown power plant development A — art center, restaurant, studios, arboretum, SPAM museum, condos, shops, brewery, theatre space.
—Attract business — attract industry and business, with focus on higher-wage jobs.
—Downtown power plant B — convert old power plant in to a shopping development and restaurants (microbrewery, fast and casual eatery).
—Best schools K-12.
—Attract Industry & business — we need to bring in additional small/mid- size businesses into Austin, which will create additional jobs.
—Abandoned buildings — redevelop/revamping existing empty buildings.
—Conservatory — a beautiful natural conservatory visualize the Conservatory at Como Park in St. Paul but the Austin version would grow the natural plants and trees products that the Hormel Institute is studying for cancer research like ginger, tea, etc.
—Science & Tech museum — open a STEM community museum where people of all ages can partake in STEM hands-on interactive activities.
—SPAMusement Park — Austin could be home to an amusement park of some type; a water park, a theme park or some combination of the two.
—Downtown development — make downtown a tourist and locals destination with public gathering area/plaza. Live entertainment; restore historical store fronts, arts events, more retailers, benches, park for kids, etc.
—Bike trails B — Connect regional bike trails across the city connecting all attractions, shopping, neighborhoods, designated bike lanes.
—Establish a Family Fun Center — something for all ages.
—Outdoor concerts — we should organize an outdoor concert series in downtown Austin on Friday nights in the summer.
—River and lake development — continue and expand long term flood mitigation including dredging rivers, developing new lake and wildlife area, modern dams.
—Recreation Center — change the oak park mall from a retail center to a recreation center for families, including bowling, pool tables and walking track, climbing wall.
—Downtown festival — adaptation of Rochester’s Thursdays on First weekly downtown festival.
—Comprehensive Business Plan for attracting new retail, restaurants, attractions.
—Pursue an outlet shopping area.
—Wi-Fi — city wide, high speed, public Wi-Fi provided free to residents.
—New or rebuilt YMCA.
—Winter Community Center in which there is a heated relaxation pool, an arboretum area, indoor walking are, and indoor play area.
—Water park — indoor/outdoor attraction possibly use mall area.
—Fiber optics — ultra high speed access to the internet, get fiber optics to every residence and business in Austin.
—Youth center open all year.
—More entertainment — indoor/outdoor water park, science museum, modern roller rink, indoor skate park, indoor go-carts, miniature golf, bounce house, laser tag, playground, etc.
—Develop a plaza downtown for Farmer’s market, arts and crafts, fairs, carousel, popcorn cart, murals, etc.
—Encourage better retail selection.
—Establish a neighborhood clean-up, fix up, paint up fund to provide grants or low inters loans for home/yard improvements in residential area.

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  • Yin and Yang

    Some items shouldn’t have even made the list. For one thing Oak Park Mall is privately owned so there is no way a bowling alley, rec center, etc would be put in there, unless the city buys the property. The owners don’t even maintain what they already have inside or outside the mall.

    The YMCA is a major non-profit corporation, I think anything rebuilt there would have to be funded by the parent company.

    Best Schools – The Superintendent is paid $150,000 a year to make sure the best education system is in place. Austin has great teachers and staff. The problem is that too many parents need to step up to the plate to make sure their kids are studying and doing their homework.

    Outdoor Concerts – There are Bandshell concerts in the summer, and the Farmers Market downtown. Maybe the Farmers market could move to the Bandshell or vise versa.

    Winter Community Center – Open the Lagoon for skating again and open all the warming houses. Kids can pay one dollar and go to the YMCA. YAC is at Riverside Arena.

    More outside activities – There is plenty to do if you get off the couch.

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  • ChicagoStyle

    A group of Austins concerned citizens is volunteering their time to try to come up with suggestions to improve the community and all you can do is be negative? Any positive ideas from you?

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    • Yin and Yang

      I only commented on six of the line items, that leaves at least 24 that seem worthy to look at. I did not intend to be negative, but when we are dealing with privately owned businesses and buildings, Vision 2020 cannot control putting new things into those properties.

      My suggestion to combine the Farmers Market with concerts each week was a great suggestion. Offering outdoor activities such as opening the Lagoon for skating and employing students part time to supervise with warming house would be another positive.

      I have volunteered for many years, in many facets of the community. I have found that dealing with ideas that cannot be acted upon is very frustrating and time consuming.

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