Mayor lays out plans for Waterloo | Political News

DONALD A. PROMNITZ

WATERLOO – Mayor Quentin Hart laid out Waterloo’s 2030 Community Vision plan for county supervisors this week.

Hart told the Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that his team had been working with de Novo Marketing from Cedar Rapids and has developed an eight-point plan to be implemented over an eight-year span.

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“Through the pandemic, we knew that there would be a time when we would be moving away from the pandemic,” Hart said. “And we wanted to make sure we had a collective vision for the year 2030.”

The plan is meant to bolster downtown and spur investment in the Crossroads Center area, improve infrastructure and housing, and aggressively promote the city, among other measures. Hart said the plan was developed through meetings with stakeholders, the City Council, neighborhood organizations and nonprofits, using community surveys and letting citizens pitch their own ideas at an event called Waterloo Spark on May 13 at the RiverLoop Amphitheater.

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The first of the eight points is “Flying the W,” or “planting a flag” on community wins. That means promoting positive aspects and stories about Waterloo.

“There are so many incredible stories about our city, and oftentimes, those stories are placed on the back burner because of the more negative stories that have been shared about our community,” Hart said. “But we live, we work, we play here. We have incredible businesses, we have incredible citizens. ”

The second part of the plan, “Elev8 Housing,” will focus on building new houses. Hart said the original goal was 800 new houses in eight years, but has been upped to include renovating 800 old houses as well. Implementing this point has involved research on financing and conducting a housing needs assessment. They’ve also been looking into finding ways to attract developers to build homes.

“Celebrate & Connect Neighborhoods,” the third part of the vision, looks to increase safety, accessibility and infrastructure in Waterloo neighborhoods. It will also celebrate the history of each neighborhood.

With “Waterloo Works,” Hart hopes not only to create jobs but to increase the skill set of the city’s workforce as a whole. This will require multiple avenues, including apprenticeship programs, and working closely with Hawkeye Community College and the Waterloo Career Center.

“We want Waterloo to have the most trained workforce in the entire state of Iowa, and the entire Midwest,” Hart said.

Parts five and six, “Crossroads Doubledown” and “Power Up Downtown,” will focus on revitalizing and bolstering areas of the city with the most potential for commerce. For Crossroads, that means not only trying to inject new life into the mall itself, but connecting it to the surrounding neighborhoods and businesses.

As for downtown, Hart says there’s already much to enjoy, and officials are working to promote recent and future renovations.

“It was once stated that the city only had downtown bars,” Hart said. “Well, if you believe that, then you probably forget about the Convention Center and you probably forget about Young Arena, the SportsPlex, you forget about the governmental operations. You forget that we have three of the best museums in the state of Iowa right next to one another. ”

With “Sportstown USA,” the city wants to promote and extend the athletic programs in Waterloo with more and better facilities and expand outdoor recreation at large.

Finally, the eighth part of the plan, “Community of Opportunity,” will expand opportunities for residents in education and careers through such actions as expanding broadband access and improving public transportation, along with creating and supporting a more inclusive local economy.

“This is not just a city of Waterloo government project; this is a city of Waterloo project, ”Hart said. “This is what our people want, what they asked for, so we need to make sure we continue to get people engaged and continue to move forward, so that Waterloo can be that community of opportunity by 2030.”

Following his presentation, Hart answered questions from the board. Commenting on Black Hawk County’s growth in recent years as a destination for outdoor activities, Supervisor Dan Trelka said growth for Waterloo was still possible and expressed enthusiasm for the plan.

“Waterloo was so optimistic about where they could go in the ’70s, so they became 63 square miles – that’s the size of Madison, Wisconsin – and they had a vision to fill that footprint,” Trelka said. “And I believe it can still be done.”

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