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Your Letters: Design Team: Get ready to GROW Wadena

Saturday night, the Minnesota Design Team proposed a number of ideas and recommendations in Memorial Auditorium, among those:

• A co-located high school, wellness/community/hockey center/National Guard Armory.

• A grade-separated intersection that takes State Highway 29 over the railroad tracks (west of the high school site) and intersects with U.S. Highway 10.

• A new events center (seating 600-800) that may also be designed to provide a secure emergency shelter located at a redeveloped Wadena County Fair Grounds.

• An expanded Tri-County Hospital on land that currently holds the National Guard Armory.

• A lake, Lake Wadena, formed adjacent to Union Creek in Sunnybrook Park that would provide a recreational and development amenity on the former airport property.

• A recommendation for an inter-generational housing strategy based on the demographics of the community that would accommodate a variety of housing choices, types and price points.

• An expanded walking and trail system that connects all the major areas and destinations of the community.

• And a GROW Wadena checklist that provides a simple and direct way to measure a number of important community goals (sustainability, multi-generational housing, being entrepreneurial, leafy, connected, etc.) that should be used whenever a decision is being considered. This checklist was conceived as a way to help organize/measure upcoming efforts like co-locating the high school and community/wellness center, updating the comprehensive plan and anticipated discussions with MnDOT about U.S. Highway 10.

These ideas and recommendations are a result of what we heard and saw in the short but very informative time we spent in your community. We heard and saw how the downtown is vibrant (with eye-catching streets lights); how you have refurbished the railroad depot; that Tri-County is a national leader in tele-medicine; how proud you are of your school (with a recent graduation rate of 98 percent!); locally grown businesses through an entrepreneurial attitude; enthusiastic support for hockey, volleyball (good luck in the state tournament!), baseball and a very established boxing club; the extensive mural program and other arts initiatives; a Cyber Café established by the youth (with support from Central Minnesota Initiative Foundation and others) that is the place to meet in town; and many others.

In our opinion your community demonstrates a wealth of strengths and successes, and the potential to continue to build on those assets. It may be years before Wadena will see all these ideas come to fruition. And that is normal -- change, development, rebuilding and reinvestment occur in cycles and increments regardless of the location. Each of these should be considered carefully using the GROW checklist and with all proper due diligence. Be confident and reassured that you are capable of doing great things regardless of the project or circumstance.

The Design Team's recommendations should be understood as a confirmation of the inherent commitment and determination that we see as the fundamental foundation for moving forward. We don't expect that you will implement all these recommendations, but we know that you have the leadership, the capacity and the spirit necessary to accomplish any of these if you so decide.

So continue to GROW Wadena: Great Region - Our Wadena.

Michael Lamb, Co-leader

Minnesota Design Team