It’s been a a year since a team from the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) came to Glenwood to conduct a Downtown Assessment.
The assessment included interviews with dozens of citizens who were asked to share their likes and dislikes about living in Glenwood. Interviews were conducted with Glenwood-area residents of all ages from all walks of life. At the conclusion of their visit, IDED team members presented their analysis of the interviews and their own outsider thoughts on Glenwood.
I conducted an interview of my own with one of the IDED team members at the end of his visit to Glenwood. Thom Guzman told me he’s been involved in many community assessments across the state of Iowa and his initial instincts were telling him that Glenwood lacked the vision, leadership and commitment to follow through on the findings and suggestions of his team.
Well, a year has passed since the assessment and I believe it’s accurate to say the jury’s still deliberating on its impact, but I think Mr. Guzman just might be a little surprised to know that Glenwood is actually tackling some of the issues addressed in the community-wide evaluation. A Downtown Assessment committee, spearheaded by community advocate Mark Ford, has been meeting on a quarterly basis at the Glenwood Senior Center to formulate plans of action on variety of fronts, including downtown business development, event planning, historical preservation and beautification.
One of the first issues the committee has addressed is the controversial corner nodes (now referred to as green spaces) around Town Square. For several years, the nodes were community eyesores, infested with weeds and unsightly vegetation growth. Not the case any more.
If you haven’t noticed, the nodes are actually being maintained this year. The assessment committee implemented an “Adopt A Green Space” program and found 18 businesses, organizations and individuals who were willing to step up to the plate and take on one of the nodes.
The nodes are just a start for a committee that hopes to orchestrate long-term positive changes and improvements in Glenwood.
Kudos to the business owners and other community residents who are taking the time to serve or get involved with one of the Downtown Assessment subcommittees. Too often, we hear from the gripers at the hair salon and complainers at the coffee shop who don’t like this and don’t like that. The problem with these people is they sit on the sideline pointing figures and whining about the shortcomings of our community but aren’t willing to step up to the plate themselves to offer solutions to problems or do something constructive that could make our town a better place to live.
Glenwood’s Downtown Assessment Committee (still formulating an official name for itself) is in its infancy. Tackling the corner node issue is the first step of a long list of accomplishments this group of volunteers aims to accomplish. Join me in applauding their efforts. Better yet, come to the committee’s next meeting in September and find out what you can do to make Glenwood a better place to live.