Honing their focus

Yesenia Mendoza holds up a sign for the Education Leaders committee as groups met to begin talking about the 10 Vision 2020 ideas Thursday night at Riverland Community College. — Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Vision 2020 committees meet for first time

It’s down to business for Vision 2020.

The 10 Vision 2020 project committees met for the first time Thursday night, the first of many meetings to one day enact big changes in Austin.

“Your willingness to get innovative is one of the big reasons why Austin is such an extraordinary community,” Vision 2020 Chairman Gary Ray told community volunteers at Riverland Community College.

The project committees will address various community needs and improvements over the coming months. The ideas include business development and attractions with a “gateway to Austin attraction,” the “revitalization of the Austin Utilities building,” a “business friendly environment” and making “downtown Austin a destination point”; health and recreation with an “expanded bike/walk system” and a “community recreational center”; technology with “community-wide technology”; education with “education leaders”; clean water by “embracing and maintaining waterways”; and pride with “community pride and spirit.”

The groups are still deciding what each project will accomplish, but there are plenty of ideas going around. Tim Ruzek suggested that drudging tires out of the Cedar River would be a good start to cleaning up Austin’s waterways.

“It’s not an easy task to get them out,” he said.

For the education leaders group, which is mostly made up of Austin Public School and Riverland staff, the goal is a little harder to flesh out. Group members hope to invite more people to their next meeting and include students in the conversation to see how Austin can have the best education system around.

For the Austin Utilities Plant renovation committee, there was no shortage of ideas. From condos to carousels, restaurants to shops, residents found plenty of things the old building could house.

“It’s a good first step,” said Jennie Germain, committee member.

One thing is for sure: there will be more volunteers. While some groups are a little smaller — the Gateway to Austin and Business-Friendly committees each have four or five members — almost every committee wants more input from residents to figure out how best to improve Austin.

“I see it as an opportunity to collaborate,” said Jim Splinter, Community Recreation Center committee member.

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