One consistent, continual effort
While the wonders of Project AWAYSIS destination park emerge along the lakefront, one committee is working to make sure the excitement travels inland as well, creating a "connection" project to spread the appeal into the Storm Lake downtown district and beyond.
Phase One of the plan calls for the creation of a "major gateway" near the Flindt and Lakeshore intersection and Radio Park. A large community sign structure would be developed. A second gateway would be developed near the Lake Avenue and Lakeshore intersection. New lightposts with a nautical theme would be installed on Flindt. Antique-style lights similar to those installed in Frank Starr Park a year ago but with hanging flower baskets are planned for Lake Avenue from the lake to the Railroad Street downtown.
"We hope to tie in the business district with all of the excitement that will be happening at the lakeshore area with things like the lodge and aquatic center," committee chairman Mike Kohler said. "We would like the downtown area to tie into the parks with one consistent and continual effort and look."
In the process, the group plans to make Lake Avenue beautification a priority for the community, and add informational signage throughout the area that will fit into the decor and guide visitors to the various attractions.
Cost for the first phase of the connection project is estimated at $640,000, with the lighting being the largest part of the expense.
City Administrator John Call said he would like to see the phase completed within three years, taking shape at the same time the lakefront AWAYSIS developments are happening.
The committee has discussed establishing a trolley route to further connect the lakefront with the downtown attractions, and the possibility of tying in with the restoration of the railroad depot being planned in a separate project, but no decisions have been made on those developments.
In the longer term future, the committee foresees phases two through four of the connection project. A second portion would further improve Lake Avenue downtown with more antique-style lighting, signage, cut-down curbs, flower beds and brick inset into walkways - all designed to create a more parklike appearance and a softer look, Kohler said.
"We hope to make the whole district a place where people want to spend time, almost like a park setting. Whether people are shopping or not, we would hope that the downtown would be a place where they could come and find places for a whole family to enjoy," he said.
Additional phases involve further developments along Flindt Drive and North Lake, with tree plantings, walks and new lighting that would match the previously developed areas. operators of businesses downtown, in the Flindt area and North Lake area all sat on the committee. No timeline has been set for phases two through four, which were not included in the Vision Iowa funding request.
In addition to Kohler, the committee includes Diane Sokolowski, Ken Davis, Tom Fitzpatrick, Wayne Andrews, Tim Randall, Al White, Brenda Gervais, Gary Ringgenberg, John Keenan and Jim Carney.