By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
Focusing on parks and bike trails in Little Falls, St. Cloud State University (SCSU) students presented ideas to bring out the history and beauty of the city, to draw people to the community.
Members of the Heritage Preservation class, led by instructor Dr. Chuks Ugochukwu, brought forth ideas Wednesday to decorate the new light posts that will be installed with banners.
One group envisioned colorful vinyl banners, inexpensive and easily replaced, while the other suggested wrought iron banners with a silhouette depicting the history of the portion of town it would be located in.
In keeping with the wrought iron look, benches and waste receptacles in wrought iron were one idea to bring “nostalgia” into town.
At each point highlighted, kiosks with information about the particular site were a part of each presentation, with one idea being to incorporate a Quick Response (QR) Code, making information for electronic users easy to obtain. The students pointed out that much information has been put together already for the city in its walking history tour, and it would be simple and inexpensive to make that available with a QR code.
Empty store windows could be covered with window clings depicting a historical image of Charles Lindbergh, historic Main Street, Camp Ripley, the Cass Gilbert Depot and others.
Of course, bike racks, were incorporated in each design, as both took into consideration the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) that will come near and through Little Falls.
Mill Park could become a multi-use park with campsites, a fishing pier, bike storage, a boat landing, a Frisbee golf course and grills available to guests stopping for a rest. In the winter, it could include an area for cross country skiing.
The kiosks would become part of a bike tour along the MRT in one scenario.
At Le Bourget Park, suggestions included a fenced-in dog park until the city could afford an amphitheatre, and memorial sculpture gardens.
Mayor Cathy VanRisseghem said that these ideas would be combined with ideas generated through a downtown beautification group, with collaboration from the Great River Arts Center, Morrison County Public Health, St. Francis and other organizations.
A grant was obtained from the Initiative Foundation to hire a facilitator for another “Town 101” meeting in June or July 2014, where the focus will be on which ideas to move forward with.
“Lots of ideas have been coming together,” said VanRisseghem. “We’re working on issues like parking, beautification, trees and parks.”
She said people from other communities would also be invited to share what they have done in their communities and the issues they have dealt with.
“We’re going to pull all that stuff together and then we’re going to have the Town 101 meeting,” said VanRisseghem.
She hopes to get the City Council involved and other organizations in town to “Come to some kind of agreement on what it is we want for our community,” said VanRisseghem. “We will address business recruiting and retention, beautification and housing, all those things will be part of the discussion next year.”
VanRisseghem said she really liked the students’ ideas, many of which match others brought forward in the past.
“I love the wrought iron banner idea,” she said.
“We need to create a vision for our community,” said VanRisseghem. “We don’t have to get all this stuff done tomorrow, but if we have it as our goal, then we can work toward it.”
The students “did a wonderful job,” she said.