OWATONNA — While acknowledging and even embracing the fact that Owatonna is a small town, the people associated with Owatonna Forward say that it is clear that the residents would like to see some big city amenities here.
That, at least, is one of the conclusions that Owatonna Forward derived from a series of public input sessions and an online survey that was open to the public earlier this year.
Owatonna Forward, launched in January 2016, is a grassroots, citizen-driven effort that, according to its website, “seeks to ensure a healthy and prosperous future” for the Owatonna community.
With that in mind, the members of Owatonna Forward — “stewards,” they are called — undertook the effort to take the pulse of the community, develop a “Shared Destiny” statement based on what they heard and further delineate specific ideas and projects that the people of Owatonna expressed to see in the city. “Destiny Drivers” is the term they are called.
As part of an ongoing occasional series, presented in the Tuesday and Weekend editions of the Owatonna People’s Press — a series which began on Dec. 5 and will continue through Dec. 19 — those destiny drivers are being revealed to the community.
One of the first things said in the statement titled “Our Shared Destiny” refers to a vision that the Owatonna citizens have for the community, according to Owatonna Forward: “Through shared and purposeful action Owatonna will … be a vibrant community with authentic small town charm and big city amenities.”
Here then are three more Destiny Drivers — drivers that are being grouped under the heading “Big City Amenities.”
Develop a Steele County Fairgrounds Destination Plan to fully utilize its potential.
Why Do We Care?
Owatonna hosts the largest county fair in Minnesota, the Steele County Free Fair, drawing over 250,000 annually. This community event is special to Owatonna, but the fairground site is underutilized the remainder of the year. Identifying current and emerging opportunities for the site could be of economic significance for residents and visitors.
Construct an inclusive playground and Miracle League Field to welcome youth and families of all abilities.
Why Do We Care?
Owatonna is a community with a diverse range of abilities. Welcoming and respecting all abilities to learn, play and grow together is important. Every community member, especially children, should have the right to play and feel they belong.
By 2022, Owatonna will build an inclusive community center that promotes community health and wellness.
Why Do We Care?
Quality of life is paramount in order to maintain a viable community. We must encourage people to want to live, work, visit and retire in Owatonna. A community center will help to draw workforce talent and keep people in our region. It will provide a central location for citizens and visitors to pursue fitness, education, arts and culture, aquatics, recreation and social opportunities. Public input clearly shows that Owatonna citizens desire a community wellness and recreation center.
Our Shared Destiny:
Owatonna will become the hub of southern Minnesota and attract the world to its doors. Through shared and purposeful action Owatonna will
• be a vibrant community with authentic small town charm and big city amenities.
• welcome and embrace each generation across its broad diversity of citizens.
• develop assets to enrich and nurture its quality of life, so that it is considered a healthy and desirable place to live, learn, work, play, raise a family, and retire.
• be “open for business,” capitalizing on its entrepreneurial and agricultural history, diverse business sectors and physical location.
• serve as a crossroads for recreation and tourism, enhancing its economic, wellness and human diversity.
• encourage leadership alignment and citizen participation at all levels, so the entire community creates and contributes to its prosperity.
COMING UP TUESDAY:
Cornerstone to a thriving community — education