Presenters gear up for final round of Idea Splash

Published 9:00 am Sunday, January 24, 2016

Two potential Albert Lea projects will vye for $20,000 in grant funding Tuesday night.

The ideas, a self-guided historic walking tour and a dog park, will be presented in front of a team of business, public safety, education, sports and faith community leaders.

The event, the final round of an Idea Splash from November, begins at 6:30 p.m. at Southwest Middle School.

Jerry Gabrielatos

Jerry Gabrielatos

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The public is invited to attend.

The event will feature 20-minute presentations for each project and a 10-minute question-and-answer session with the public and the leadership panel.

“It’s a great way to learn about what entrepreneurial ideas can boost attraction to the downtown area and lakes,” said Albert Lea Assistant City Manager Jerry Gabrielatos.

“It gives the community a way to think of and enhance the assets that are available in Albert Lea.”

Gabrielatos isn’t sure when a final decision will be made on how the $20,000 grant the city received from Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation will be divvied up. A celebration of the ideas and awarding of the grant is planned for June.

The self-guided historic walking tours, an idea by Paul Shea, Lucas Schuster and Mark Russell, would include QR codes and selfie stations near the downtown district and lakes for tours. The codes would link to an article or an audio piece explaining history and other information about the site.

Shea said his idea has three benefits to the city. He said his plan would bridge the gap between millennials and older residents who are more familiar with the city’s history, bring history to people who normally wouldn’t read about it and showcase downtown Albert Lea and the city’s lakes.

“I hope that the public comes out and asks questions,” Shea said.

Shea said the project has received donations from Albert Lea businesses and a $500 grant from Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services.

The dog park idea is spearheaded by the Rotary Club and proposes a fenced-in, off-leash park where well-behaved dogs can exercise, socialize and have fun in a clean, safe environment.

A community meeting was held Tuesday night in connection with the idea. Frank Hall Park and space near Brookside Education Center have been identified as possible locations.

“It’s a great opportunity for Albert Lea,” said Rotary Club President Sheila Schulz. “Both projects are great.”

Schulz said the Rotary Club has received two local grants, one from Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services and Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea.

Schulz expressed appreciation for the donations the Rotary Club has received from other businesses and individuals, and said she hopes both projects receive funding.

Three ideas have dropped out of the running for the grant funding since November: an idea presented by Bill Howe for Edgewater RV Park and Campground, an idea presented by Kelly Goskeson to allow boaters to utilize Fountain Lake Park by adding services and amenities, and an idea presented by Bethany Greiner for a bike rental.

If you go

What: Final round of the Idea Splash

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Southwest Middle School

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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