The city has committed to having a team of architects, planners and artists called the Minnesota Design Team come to Princeton this fall to help develop ideas for city enhancement.
Princeton Community Development Director Carie Fuhrman confirmed that she will be sending the first half of the required $5,000 payment to have the Design Team come Sept. 25-28. The city received a $4,000 grant from the Minnesota Initiative Foundation to go toward the cost. The city, as of July 2, received donations of $500 each from three local banks – Bremer, Sherburne State Bank and People’s Bank of Commerce – to fill in the remaining $1,000 and give a $500 contingency for extra costs that Fuhrman foresees, such as food for the team members.
The Downtown Committee, a subcommittee of the Princeton Area Chamber of Commerce, is working on establishing a list of local families to host members of the Design Team, which can number 12-20, according to Fuhrman. Having the team members stay in local homes can help in the team gaining more input than just what comes from the formal Design Team process, Fuhrman added.
That process will include a community potluck supper the evening of Friday, Sept. 26, at Immanuel Lutheran in Princeton. That is the time that residents can give their ideas to the Design Team about what they like about Princeton and also what they would like changed or added.
The school district has already gathered such input from a large number of students before the school year ended this past spring. The school district was one of many entities in Princeton that Fuhrman solicited letters of support to get the $4,000 grant and make the Design Team visit possible.
Many Princeton elementary students wrote glowing letters about what they like about Princeton, but also suggested a myriad of ideas of what they would like. The latter ranged from a zoo and swimming pool to an ice cream factory and, in one case, a crime-free place.
“Princeton is a small, cozy and safe town,” student Desseray Hoppe began in her letter. “It’s a perfect place to go for a walk or a bike ride. I love Santa Lucia, the ice cream shop. It’s a nice place to relax and eat ice cream. In the future I would like there to be 100 percent no criminals. Maybe there could even be a book store, bakery and/or a candy store. Please consider this.”
North Elementary student Cole Eller drew a picture on his letter of a cookie, candy and donut store. As for what he likes about the town, he said it is “home, super small town and a collage of weird things.”
Student Adam J. suggested the city turn its empty buildings into toy stores.
The schedule for the Design Team visit is:
Thursday, Sept. 25 – The team members arrive and meet their host families.
Friday, Sept. 26 – The team hears presentations from various groups including the school district, park and trails board, historical society, and arts organizations. After a noon lunch, the team is to split up to meet with more people for input and then go on a bus or walking tour of the community. The potluck dinner is that evening at Immanuel for gathering communitywide input.
Saturday, Sept. 27 – The Design Team “goes to work,” according to Fuhrman, to form project ideas out of the input. The team is to present those ideas that evening to the public in the high school performing arts center.
Sunday, Sept. 28 – Some Design Team members are expected to linger in Princeton for a while before leaving, Fuhrman said.
at Arts Co-op
As part of the process to get people thinking about the project, the Central Minnesota Arts Co-op is hosting a public gathering at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 14, to gather public input for the Design Team to study. That evening is also when the Arts Co-op plans to show its first outdoor movie on the north wall of its building. Admission is free.
Getting “integral players” in the community to give their input is important, but the plan is to open the chance for input to everyone, Fuhrman said.
“I think it is a great opportunity for Princeton. It’s really about gathering community input and bringing people together, which can be more important than the end results, sometimes,” she added.
The ideas that the Design Team suggests will go to an implementation committee that will work on how any of the ideas could become reality, including the important funding part, Fuhrman said.
She noted that what comes out of the Design Team visit and process can be used in comprehensive and long-range planning as well as budgeting. It can often happen that a community goes along for years without improvement when it doesn’t open itself enough to ideas from a wide variety of sources, Fuhrman added.
Fuhrman, incidentally, has some experience with the Design Team process already, having been a planner on the Design Team that visited Appleton, Minnesota, some months ago.