Hundreds share their vision for the improvement of Ottumwa's riverfront

Tables of city leaders and residents work on their vision for Ottumwa's riverfront.

Around 100 people came to the Bridge View Center Tuesday night to share their ideas for the future of Ottumwa.

An urban design consulting firm out of Chattanooga, Tennessee hosted the meeting to gather ideas for the waterfront. The group was in Ottumwa in June and completed what they called a "dot exercise". Everyone in attendance was given three colors of stickers, green for their favorite places in Ottumwa, red for their least favorite places and blue for the places that show potential. A large clustering of green dots showed that Ottumwa residents enjoy the trail system, Greater Ottumwa Park and the Bridge View Center. However, some places along the river, like parking lots and side roads, hosted a lot of red dots.

The next step in the process of improving Ottumwa's riverfront was to assemble a plan. Participants of Tuesday's meeting were grouped into tables with a map. Groups could write and sketch on the map their ideas for what kind of improvements they'd like to see and where.

Just a few of the ideas discussed included housing, more recreational facilities, an expanded trail system and more restaurants and shopping. By combining the best of these, the goal is to make Ottumwa a destination city for people across the state and country.

"We want to take and use the river like it used to be used - as a true economic builder for this city," said Joe Shultz, member of the River Renaissance Committee.

If you were not able to make it to Tuesday's meeting, Christian Rushing and his associates will be putting together a plan based on all the ideas they received Tuesday. They will be doing that at the Bridge View Center from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. The public is welcome to stop by and see how the plan is coming or add more ideas.

Another meeting will be held Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Bridge View Center to present what the group has come up with.