Marion Chamber accepting applications, ideas for ImagiNext

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MARION — Residents have another chance to share their ideas for Marion’s future as the city begins another visioning process, called ImagiNEXT.

Throughout the process, city officials hope to gather suggestions from residents on amenities, services or projects they would like to see the city prioritize in coming years.

The session follows Imagin8, which began in 2009 and left Marion officials with eight ideas, including expanding parks and trails, an expanded library and downtown Wi-Fi hot spots.

Jill Ackerman, president of the Marion Chamber of Commerce, which is leading the visioning process, said they are accepting applications from residents who want to be on a selection committee until Nov. 4.

The community is encouraged to hold brainstorming sessions with neighbors and community groups. Ackerman said the chamber also would like to hear from the workforce in Marion and even residents outside of the city.

Applications for the selection committee and brainstorming session templates can be found online at marionimaginext.org.

Mayor Nick AbouAssaly, who was on the selection committee for Imagin8, said he hopes the community engages in the process to have a say in what services and amenities could enhance their city for years to come.

“This is intended to draw out what people in the community would like to see and take place, not only physical but it can also be human services, any kind of a need people see would be desirable,” AbouAssaly said. “Ultimately, the city government is here to serve the needs of residents. This is an opportunity engage in a community conversation in what they would like to see.”

And the chamber has partnerships with local schools to hear what students want to see in their communities.

“We want to know what they want their community to look like and what’s going to make them stay here,” Ackerman said of students. “We usually get moving so fast we forget to take a step back and think how we want our community to look in ten years.”

The Chamber of Commerce hopes to gather about 3,000 suggestions from residents by Jan. 15. Then a selection committee of 18 to 21 people will narrow the list to about 100 ideas.

Residents then will vote on the ideas, and the selection committee will compile those into three to five final ideas, Ackerman said.

“A great byproduct of the process,” AbouAssaly said, “is that it draws out people who would not normally be engaged.”

Though about 1,800 suggestions were narrowed down to 8 ideas in the 2009 process, Ackerman said she’s seen many that didn’t make the cut still be fulfilled by Marion businesses and organizations. Those ideas included a city farmers market, community gardens and a theater.

l Comments: (319) 368-8516; makayla.tendall@thegazette.com

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