How can Gaylord prosper? Area citizens were given the opportunity to answer that question this past weekend during the Minnesota Design Team visit. Pictured above is Gaylord native Tadd Kreun. He is a landscape architect and was one of the 18 design team members.
Those who participated in the Minnesota Design Team sessions this past weekend got a glimpse of what could be included in the City of Gaylord’s future.
Creating a common vision for the future of Gaylord was the primary goal of the Minnesota Design Team’s visit.
Residents of all ages were asked to share their plans and ideas on Friday. A town meeting at the Gaylord Legion Club that evening was attended by more than 200 people. It was at that meeting where citizens were given the opportunity to express what they thought was important for the City of Gaylord.
The Minnesota Design Team, a group of professional volunteers, worked all day Saturday compiling the citizens’ ideas, then creating conceptual plans for the City. Those plans were presented to nearly 150 people Saturday evening during a session at school.
“We hope to give the City something to strive for,” said Sean Walther, leader of the Design Team. “The goal of this process is to help a community which is struggling to move forward and is going in a lot of different directions.”
Walther started Saturday’s session by saying the community of Gaylord is in a “period of regeneration.” He said the town has a number of wonderful assets. Now, everyone must grasp onto a piece of the vision, then work toward one goal,” Walther explained.
Using drawings, members of the design team discussed the following areas which they felt would improve Gaylord.
According to Walther, improving Lake Titloe was the number one priority “by far” among citizens attending Friday’s town meeting.
A design team member referred to the lake as “the heart and soul” of Gaylord. But, he said the bad news is much of the lake’s problem is coming from “way upstream,” not from the City.
According to the design team, neglect of water over the last 150 years is starting to show. He said Gaylord is doing a lot but needs to do more.
The presentation on the lake was capped by the following statement: Gaylord’s contribution to the lake’s water quality is small, but its influence can be large.
A community center is also a priority for the City of Gaylord, according to many attending Friday’s town meeting.
Design Team members believe the best location for a community center would be directly east of the stormwater pond on the east side of town. This location would allow for expansion, the design team explained.
Design team members also discussed youth and senior centers for the City of Gaylord. They believed the City could use existing vacant buildings for these projects.
It’s clear that rejuvenating the downtown is a necessary thing, according to the Design Team. A strong foundation of buildings are in place but there are a “few teeth missing,” a design team member explained to the crowd on Saturday.
Encouraging local entrepreneurs, retaining current businesses and seeking out new businesses should be a priority, according to a design team member.
The Design Team also suggested the City develop design guidelines and standards for downtown buildings. Creating unified and transparent facades throughout downtown was also suggested.
Make more pedestrian friendly. That appeared to be the priority for design team members who studied ways to make improvements to streets in downtown Gaylord.
Walking down Main Street in Gaylord is not the best situation because there is a lot of truck traffic, a design member explained. A possible alternate route for trucks was proposed.
Design team members also suggested the City consider expanded sidewalks, boulevard trees, medians and light poles in downtown Gaylord. An opportunity for these improvements could come when MnDOT conducts its highway 22 project, Design Team members explained. That project is currently scheduled for 2014.
A need for housing in Gaylord was also discussed by design team members Saturday. The meeting was then capped by comments from Gaylord mayor Doug Quast and Chuck Klimmek, president of Gaylord’s Economic Development Authority.
“This is not the end, but the beginning,” Klimmek told the audience. “We have seen conceptual ideas of what we can do in our community. Now we need to keep the momentum going, and to do that we are going to need a lot of people to get involved.”
Mayor Quast praised the community for its enthusiasm. We had great community involvement as people took time out of their busy schedules to participate in the Design Team’s visit, Quast said. We now need to start prioritizing and implementing some of these ideas.
Plans are to display more details on the Design Team’s visit at www.gaylord.govoffice.com and Cable Channel 8. Also, a summary of the visit will eventually be on the Design Team’s Web site at www.minnesotadesignteam.org.