Vision of the future

Citizens weigh in with ways for Coeur d'Alene to evolve

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Denny Davis votes in favor of an “easy win” idea to improve Coeur d’Alene Saturday at Vision 2030, an event designed to unite community members to formulate new ways of bettering the city. Groups gathered in the Student Union Building at NIC and were told to come up with both ideas that could be game changers for the community and easy wins which would be small, yet noticeable, improvements.

COEUR d'ALENE - Community collaboration was powerful as 124 local citizens voiced their concerns and opinions about what lies ahead for the Lake City during the Coeur d'Alene 2030 Community Vision Summit in North Idaho College's Student Union Building on Saturday.

Participants were split into six focus groups: education and learning, jobs and economy, health and safety, community and identity, environment and recreation and growth and development. The groups were given information regarding community trends and issues relevant to their topics as well as 1,300 community members' input obtained through questionnaires and surveys.

Their task was to edit and find out what might be missing from the overarching vision.

"This project is all about the community," said project manager Nicole Kahler. "It's community driven, it's community owned, so let's hear some stuff from the community."

Prominent vision ideas for 2030 included Coeur d'Alene's economy producing more sufficient living wage jobs, transportation improvements and lake and river enhancements so waterways and shorelines remain significant community features. Emphasizing education, enhancing the small-town feel and promoting community health and wellness were also focal points. Numerous other community issues were discussed, such as revitalizing the east side of Sherman Avenue, utilizing alternative energy sources, increasing affordable housing and preserving Coeur d'Alene's heritage.

Post Falls resident and NIC student Jess Eaton was at the environment and recreation table. She said she feels it's important for all members of the community to get involved, have their voices heard and know what's happening now that will affect the city's future.

"It's amazing to be able to talk to all these people about different things," she said. "I'm learning a lot more also about the different issues that are going on, and a lot more about what we can actually do about it. I feel like a lot of times we have this idea that there's something going on, but you don't have a tangible way to fix it or do something about it."

Eaton said her summit experience was positive, that people worked well together and were able to have productive conversations, even with differing viewpoints.

"I think this is an amazing opportunity to be able to talk to a lot of people, connect with a lot of people and realize that there is something that you can do, you can contribute, you can be a part of it," she said.

Mark Browning, NIC's vice president for community relations and marketing, was in the education and learning group.

"I think it's great. It's been very intense," he said. "The folks that we have in that group are really engaged, a lot of really well-thought-out ideas and some really probing perspectives on where we're at and how we get to where we think we need to be."

He said the mindset he and his colleagues shared was that education is the main key to the future.

"The answers and solutions for all the other challenges that you're working on, transportation, jobs, economy, health care service, all that stuff, really comes through the funnel of education," he said. "If you address education first, the rest of it can be addressed because education gives you the tools to critically think and solve those challenges."

University of Idaho business student, business owner and Athol resident Sam Kohl was a part of the health and safety discussion.

"A couple of the ideas we've been talking about for long-term vision is expanding volunteer supports/community interaction through volunteerism and creating more volunteer activities," he said. He said the group also focused on transportation, health care and outdoor winter activities.

"There's plenty of things to do over the summer, but fewer things to do during the winter," he said. "That goes back to the overall health of society, keeping people healthy during the winter months, which then drives down the health care costs the rest of the year."

Vision 2030 Coeur d'Alene is still seeking community input. Kahler said results from the summit will be posted on the organization's website, www.cda2030.org, within a week and will remain online for about a month.

At Vision 2030 on Saturday, Colton Knight, 15, contributes to the Improvement of his community by voting on what he would most like to see emphasized in the future of Coeur d’Alene. Charts were hung in the upper level of the Student Union Building at NIC where citizens gathered to brainstorm and cast their vote on what they would like to see the City look like by 2030.

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