With so many different groups and organizations planning activities in La Porte City, how can a person possibly keep track of them all? Such was the question pondered last week by a group of community leaders in La Porte City.

The community meeting, hosted by the City and led by City Council member Jasmine Gaston, began with a review of the goals set by the City Council earlier this year, which were broken into two main categories- Capital Projects/Improvements and Projects/Initiatives.

While Capital Projects and Improvements typically involve longer range, big-ticket projects, in 2018 the Council has made progress addressing some of the capital projects they have identified as priorities. For example, the playground equipment at the City Park adjacent to the Family Aquatic Center will soon be replaced. Last year, when safety issues related to the aging playground equipment were brought to the Council’s attention, plans were put into place to secure funding for new a new playground structure. Recently, the old equipment was removed to make way for the new, which the City anticipates will be delivered in the coming weeks.

The City has partnered with the La Porte City Lions Club to address another goal- the refurbishing of the recreational ball diamonds. The Council has commissioned an engineering study, which will help determine more accurate cost estimates to complete a variety of upgrades.

Another capital project in the early stages of planning is Phase II of Wolf Creek Landing, a City Park located at the intersection of Main and Tama streets. As this area sits in the floodway, the federal and state government have imposed restrictions that limit how the land can be used. The first phase of the project rehabilitated the shoreline of the creek and installed a pair of kayak landings. Phase II will establish a memorial bench dedicated in the memory of Jake Wilson. The Council will also consider additional amenities such as the installation of an open air pavilion and walking path.
Other long-term capital projects the Council is looking at include the consolidation of the fire and ambulance vehicles into one facility and the reconstruction of Main Street, a project expected to be 5-10 years in the making.

Gaston also reviewed programs and initiatives the Council is currently undertaking. In 2018, the City’s Urban Revitalization Program has been completed, which includes a tax incentive program for residential and commercial buildings, as well as ordinances that provide the framework for a housing rehabilitation program.

The City Council also wants to formulate a Volunteer Program, which was one of the main reasons community leaders were invited to participate in the meeting, Gaston explained. The goals of the program would include creating a contact list of community organizations to improve communication. Operating with the belief that “all can do some” is a more efficient way to accomplish goals than “some can do all,” the volunteer program seeks to identify individuals who wish to serve the community by specific areas of interest and ability. Such a model, if successful, will increase community involvement and ease the “donor fatigue” that can become common in smaller communities.

Participants at this first organizational meeting included representatives from a cross section of the community, including Mayor Dave Neil, Union Community Schools Superintendent Travis Fleshner, members from the City Council, Parks & Recreation Commission, Economic Development Commission, Union Community Schools Board of Education, La Porte City Elementary School PTO, La Porte City Lions Club, La Porte City Women’s Club, as well as St. Paul United Methodist Church and Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

Much of the discussion focused on work the community can do now to promote the City of La Porte City using the resources currently available. A common frustration expressed was the challenge of knowing where to find information about all of the activities and events that are available in the community, particularly those related to youth sports and activities.

The concept of a volunteer database, where volunteer skills and abilities could be matched with community needs to avoid donor burnout, was discussed. This would encourage citizens to do as little as help with an individual community event or as much as serve for a longer term as a member of a community board. The group also discussed how the community might utilize businesses that offer their employees community service opportunities, much like the volunteer work that was recently completed by Farm Credit Services cleaning up the City Park.

The group will next meet on Monday, November 5 at 6:30 PM. If you a local organization or group that would like to be included, please contact Jane Whittlesey at City Hall by calling 342-3396 or e-mail lpcclerk@lpctel.net.

2018 City Council Goals Summary
Capital Projects & Improvements
Update Aquatic Center Park – new playground equipment will replace the old/defective equipment
Wolf Creek Landing Phase II – plans include memorial bench, open air pavilion and walking path
City Ball Diamonds – joint City/Lion’s Club project will refurbish or replace current diamonds
New Fire/Ambulance Building – current structures are separate, lack adequate space
Reconstruction of Main Street – a long-term project (5-10 years) to replace streets and sidewalks

Programs & Initiatives
Urban Revitalization Plan – a residential and commercial tax incentive program recently completed
Housing Rehabilitation Program – ordinances related to property maintenance
Capital Improvements Plan – update plan to include 2018 goals
Volunteer Program – create contact list of community organizations to improve communication
Focus on Families – joint program with UCSD to welcome new families