Design Center's goals for next year begin with public awareness

WILLMAR -- A 2007 goal of the Willmar Design Center will be raising public awareness and financial support for the downtown improvements proposed in the Design Center's "Visioneer.''...

WILLMAR -- A 2007 goal of the Willmar Design Center will be raising public awareness and financial support for the downtown improvements proposed in the Design Center's "Visioneer.''

"I think the goals are to put in motion the long-range plan in the Visioneer -- the four strategic actions -- and it's a long-range plan, but we will start by developing sources for funds to complete the projects,'' said Beverly Dougherty, Design Center project coordinator.

She said 2006 was an excellent year for the Design Center, which included the recent completion of the Visioneer -- a proposed downtown master plan. The Design Center board is hoping the plan is included in the city's updated comprehensive plan.

"We accomplished everything that this group set out to do in their planning session in 2006 and we expect to do that in 2007 also,'' she said. The board will hold its annual planning meeting on Jan. 26.

Tom Ososki, Design Center urban designer, said he thinks 2006 was a huge success.


"The Design Center is really the first of its kind for a small town like this, so we really don't have any precedent to go on,'' Ososki said. "I think we're highly successful and we're kind of creating ourselves as we go along.''

Ososki recommends the Design Center communicate the four strategic goals for downtown improvement. He said having a vibrant downtown makes economic sense for the region.

"It's a preliminary concept. Each project has its own identity. It is a starting point to kick off ideas,'' he said.

"I think we're going to focus a lot on fundraising and on talking more to people, communicating what the Visioneer is communicating, and how we can get developers and business owners interested in what we're doing.''

Dougherty and Ososki briefly discussed 2006 accomplishments and goals for 2007 during the Design Center's monthly meeting Wednesday morning.

Board member Richard Engan urged the board to also focus on smaller projects such as renovating downtown housing and involving the private sector.

Board member Dick Arne said implementing the action plans will be a long-term process.

Visioneers are available at City Offices, the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, Design Center, and the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission office. Copies are also available by mail.


In other business, the board:

- Renewed the contract with Dougherty as project coordinator for 2007 at $17,500 and renewed Ososki's contract as urban designer for 2007 at $7,500.

- Re-elected the four members of the executive board to one-year terms. They are Judy Wright, president; Arne, vice president; Paul Mikkelson, secretary; and John Christianson, treasurer. The board will be looking to fill the two-year positions of board members Tom Mundahl and Lourdez Schwab who resigned.

- Was told by Dougherty that the City Council approved the Design Center's request for $50,000 in operating funds for 2007. Also, she reported the council allocated $15,000 for downtown amenities, such as benches and trash receptacles next year.

- Thanked the United Way's Youth as Resources program and The Barn Theatre for their cooperation along with the Design Center in the exterior beautification project at The Barn's Shed building.

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