Vision 2020’s rec center taking shape

Published 9:58 am Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Vision 2020 is taking the next step to make Austin healthier.

The community improvement initiative will meet with focus groups of local residents over the next few weeks to discuss attributes people would want in a community recreation center.

The interviews will be conducted by Anderson-Niebuhr, a consulting firm the Vision 2020 Community Rec Center committee hired to do a feasibility study on the need for a community rec center in Austin. The upcoming interviews will help shape the committee’s goals, which could include beefing up the YMCA in Austin or creating a new community rec center altogether.

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“The group has been putting together the list of key informants, community leaders that have a lot of input about healthy living,” said Laura Helle, director of creative vision for Vision 2020. Helle said the group knows its project will be one of the most visible aspects of Vision 2020, and wants to be prepared to take swift action when gathering community input.

“It’s one of the big capital, all-in-one-place, physical building projects,” Helle said. “The committee has been very intentional that they do this process right. They feel like ‘we’re not going to do this every 10 years,’ so they want to make sure whatever building is done right.”

Many residents have asked for a bigger community recreation center in Austin for years, though the city hosts its own YMCA and a part-time Youth Activity Center out of Riverside Arena. Some have complained over the years that local youth have few places to consistently gather, enough times that city officials were in preliminary talks with Riverland Community College to create a youth center.

Helle said the current study done by Anderson Niebuhr will focus on all age groups, and a variety of residents and community leaders representing all ages, demographics, and many social concerns will be called to answer questions about the city’s recreational needs.

Yet Vision 2020 organizers also hope to reach out to demographics not often represented at places like the YMCA. In particular, two focus groups as part of the study will consist of Hispanic families and parents of young children, age 6 and younger. Helle said Vision 2020 hopes to conduct informal meetings to get feedback from other groups in the area as well.

“There are so many that would be impacted,” Helle said.

The interview will look at things like Austin’s general recreation, what a new recreation center would mean to the town, and how a rec center would impact the local quality of life. Committee volunteers will likely get the results of the study this fall.


My Three Words

Vision 2020 will also survey residents on what they think of Austin. The group is surveying community members on perceptions of Austin. The group has posted a survey monkey link on the Vision 2020 website at asking respondents to describe Austin in three words.

The survey is part of a project to create a new brand identity for Austin. Results collected from the My Three Words survey will be shared with the design professionals as part of the background of Austin. The task force expects to continue engaging the public in the design process. The new identity is targeted to roll out in fall 2013.

The survey is also posted on the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce and Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau websites.