New year, new optimism

Published 7:01am Monday, January 6, 2014

Vision.20202. This could be Vision 2020’s biggest year so far

It was one of the top stories in Austin for 2013, and it will remain one for years to come.

Vision 2020: The initiative that grew out of community surveys, voting and forums and aims to complete 10 community-improvement projects in Austin by 2020 has gained momentum.

However, plenty of debate remains, especially in a few particular areas. One of those is a community recreation center. In 2013, Vision 2020 made progress on a future recreation center and will likely partner with the YMCA, Austin Public Schools, Riverland Community College and the city of Austin among other organizations to build one.

Vision 2020 officials held open forums detailing the results of a rec center feasibility study, which indicated 58 percent of Austin and nearby residents would either definitely, probably or maybe join a new YMCA/rec center, 90 percent of current members would continue at an upgraded facility, and 41 percent of resident who wouldn’t join the Y would at some point use a pay-per-use portion of the rec center.

Still, some wonder about the cost, if it would affect taxpayers and if a rec center is necessary. Mayor Tom Stiehm has tagged Vision 2020 as one of Austin’s priorities and said it’s important to keep the city informed about its developments, such as potential taxpayer funding for projects.

Some groups have tough issues to tackle, too. The Community Wide Technology Committee is trying to bring high-speed Internet to the community. That proposition could be spendy, and more details will be released in 2014.

Vision 2020 committees have big aspirations. That’s also evident in the Business Friendly Environment Committee’s efforts to create a community concierge. That facility/service would merge certain sectors of major employers’ human resources departments and better serve prospective employees, such as “trailing spouses” without jobs. The concierge is also part of AustinWorks, a program led by the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce.

Other Vision 2020 initiatives are making headway, too, including the Education Leaders Committee, which recently formed Austin Aspires, part of the national STRIVE network that will attempt to improve education systems and deliver better outcomes for children in all facets of education in Austin. Community Pride and Spirit Committee is already helping to clean up dilapidated housing around the city and remodel homes. The Waterways Committee has been in contact with local conservation organizations and assisted with cleanup and beautification efforts on the Cedar River. And the future of Austin’s Interstate 90 corridor — potentially with new signage and greenery — may start to take shape as soon as the 11th Drive bridge over Interstate 90 is due for an upgrade.

While there are six more years until 2020, 2014 could be a major year for improvements in Austin.


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