Herald JournalHerald Journal, Oct. 11, 2004

Residents asked to plan community's future in 'Spotlight on Winsted'

By Ryan Gueningsman and Jane Otto, Staff Writers

Is it an appearance on a national television show? No.

Is a gigantic spotlight going to be placed on Winsted’s water tower to illuminate its skies? No.

People living in the community of Winsted have a unique opportunity ahead of them this weekend – to be directly involved in the planning of the community for the future.

A group of approximately 40 people, including landscape architects, urban planners, and environmentalists, better known as the Minnesota Design Team, will descend upon the city Thursday, Oct. 14 through Saturday, Oct. 16 to put the “Spotlight on Winsted.”

Since early summer, city officials and volunteers have been busily laying plans for the design team’s visit.

The design team is a volunteer group of design, planning, and community development experts. Since 1983, the team has helped Minnesota cities develop shared visions for improving their physical and environmental designs.

Planning for the Oct. 14-16 visit has gone well, City Administrator Brent Mareck said at Tuesday’s council meeting.

“A ton of people have been working on plans,” Mareck said. “We’re at a point where we’ve been planning for months, so that when the day comes, it won’t be a scramble.”

Planning is important, Council Member Tom Wiemiller said.

“A couple of other neighboring towns have an eye on this to see how it goes, so hopefully, it’s successful,” he added.

Through a series of events spread out across three days members of the Minnesota Design Team will hear ideas about improving Winsted, things that are currently good about Winsted, and what could be done differently to make the town a better place, and to plan ahead for the future.

A free turkey dinner with all the fixings will take place at the Blue Note Friday at 6 p.m. During the dinner, members of the design team will meet in small groups with residents and take ideas. At the end of the night, all of the ideas gathered will be placed on posters for the community to discuss and provide input.

The comments, ideas, and suggestions shared Friday will be presented in a series of graphic illustrations in Holy Trinity’s gymnasium Saturday at 7 p.m. There will also be significant door prizes, including free water bills. Anyone living in Winsted is encouraged to attend any or all of the events, Mareck said

“You think you know the pulse of the community – what it’s interested in, and what it’s not,” said Mayor Don Guggemos. “This will be a good opportunity to get comments about what people want and don’t want, and to be able to identify areas of importance for people.”

He added that this won’t be a thing where people are told to “put a new front on your store,” but rather, what business owners could do with their properties to improve them.

Guggemos also said that this is a community event where residents can meet people they possibly haven’t spoken with before. “There are some people that, while they live in Winsted – it may be in Winsted on the Lake, they drive to the cities every day for work, drive back home, and never actually make it downtown. We hope to capture those people and say ‘Hey, stop uptown.’”

Winsted faces a number of challenges needing the diverse skills of the Minnesota Design Team, according to the design team’s web site.

Key issues include accommodating growth and housing while protecting and celebrating the lake, bringing vitality and identity to the historic downtown with its newly restored city hall, and enhancing a pedestrian/recreation infrastructure full of potential connections.

“We, as a city, can push forward and do what the community wants,” Guggemos said.

For more information about the Minnesota Design team and its visit to Winsted, visit www.minnesotadesignteam.org.

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