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Vision 2040 sets forums to envision the future

WILLMAR - The Willmar Lakes Area Vision 2040 steering committee invites community members to participate in four public forums next week designed to let residents envision what they would like to see in their community 27 years from now.

The public forums slated Tuesday through Thursday are part of the Vision 2040 effort to plan and develop a "roadmap'' for the greater Willmar lakes area.

The effort is being funded by Kandiyohi County, Willmar and private donors. The steering committee hired NEXT Generation Consulting of Madison, Wis., to gather comments from the public and from elected and appointed government officials and other local leaders, and to guide development of the plan.

Rebecca Ryan, NEXT Generation founder, said the Vision 2040 plan will include topic areas beyond the four that are being featured next week: economic vibrancy, inclusion, things to do and well-being.

"The consulting team chose to focus on these four areas for the July meetings because they are the ones that were repeated over and over as areas of concern among the 27 stakeholder groups we met with during our May meetings,'' said Ryan.

Bruce DeBlieck, the Willmar City Council's liaison to the Vision 2040 committee, said he is looking forward to the meetings.

"They should be exciting for the community to get involvement from various people on what directions and what some of the people in the community are hoping that things look like in 27 years,'' he said.

The comment-gathering phase of the process includes asking area residents to write their thoughts and wishes on traveling chalkboards being placed around the lakes area communities.

Steering committee members are emailing photos of the comments to NEXT Generation before erasing the boards to make room for more comments.

DeBlieck said many good and well-received comments have been written, including comments on things to do and wishes for restaurants or certain businesses.

DeBlieck said it's all part of the planning process. He and other committee members say some plans or wishes may be undertaken by government and some by private enterprise.

"You plan and you try to implement and plan some more, various projects or wishes or whatever that are identified. It's long-range planning. If you've got a particular item or wish that you want to see come to fruition, you're going to have to put some effort forward and work on it,'' he said.

"It may take a relatively short period of time. Some things make take years before they can be done. But you have to start someplace and planning is where it begins.''

By late fall, an action plan will be completed and the committee will establish action committees to implement the goals.

The community went through a similar process in 1999 to develop the Vision 2020 plan and many of the goals set in that plan have been accomplished.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150