Column: City responds to listening sessions

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 11, 2004

By Jean Eaton, Mayor of Albert Lea

Many of you took part in the &uot;Albert Lea Listens&uot; strategic planning process throughout this past year.Last week you had the opportunity to hear the results of this process. For some of you who attended the listening sessions and shared your visions, there were no surprises, while for others, a whole new world of ideas may have opened up.

Three major vision points for our community evolved from the listening sessions: business development and job creation, recreation/entertainment/cultural opportunities and community appearance and attitude.

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Albert Lea is already addressing the business development issue. We are the leader in job creation in the state of Minnesota through taking advantage of Governor Pawlenty’s JOBZ incentives. Recreational needs are being enhanced by opening phase II of the Blazing Star Trail in June and also through working on lake clean up issues.

The former JOBS Inc. First Impression Committee has been resurrected as the Albert Lea Beautification Committee and many city wide projects are in the works to improve our community’s appearance.

By Memorial Day our historic downtown will come alive with flowers and flags. Fifty hanging flower baskets, just like those in Austin and Red Wing, will adorn Broadway. Many businesses have generously donated equipment for this project including Erlandson Implement (small vehicle), Earth Soils (water tank/sprayer), Soft Steps (fertilizer), and Home Depot (product). We appreciate our community’s generousity.

Also as part of phase I of the community beautification project, approximately 100 city logo flags will adorn our light posts this summer when the American flag is not being flown.

And then, when fundraising efforts are completed, phase II of the beautification project will begin, which includes 88 city logo banners which will adorn our “front door” entrances on Main and Bridge Street. Work is also in process to replace the tops of our two &uot;Welcome&uot; signs. Please thank our Park & Recreation Department for watering the flowers, the Fire Department for hanging the flags and Wedge Nursery for their commitment to city-wide beautification.

Also in the works to improve our community’s appearance is a new &uot;contest.&uot; Beginning June 1, a weekly &uot;Curb Appeal&uot; recognition award will be given out. Each ward of our city will be highlighted throughout the summer. A monthly &uot;Beautification&uot; award will be given to a commercial or residence for their beautification efforts.

Please thank the Albert Lea Beautification committee for their work on making our community beautiful and welcoming to both residents and visitors. Members include: Beth Doyle and Lanier Pratt Co-chairs, Julie Lokken, Les Schroader, Barb Block, Jean Park, Randy Kehr, Mary Ellen Johnson, Debbie Hadt, Deb Pena, Jean Aamodt, Debbie Irmen and Joyce Nixon.

Anyone wishing to support the city-wide beautification effort can send their donation to the Freeborn County Chamber Foundation, 143 West Clark Street.

(Jean Eaton is the mayor of Albert Lea.)