Community Outreach Partnership Center Grant

(old site)

Adapting to Change: Managing Urbanization in Rural America, from Centre for Small Towns-UMM

#5 Committees:
1-Community Dialogue: Cultural Diversity-"Welcoming Newcomers"
2-Morris Design Teams
3-Economic Development
5-"Old" Morris Elementary School Building Reuse Site Project
*NOTE: The above links were just personally made from a one-sided perspective (Sal), which doesn't "totally" represent the COPC Committee overall.

Archive of Articles on COPC

City of Morris/Center for Small Towns-UMM winning of the 2006 Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Partnership Award for Campus-Community Collaborations

University Register Article on Nov 9th
Community involvement next step in Design Team plan 10/19/2005 (link site)
By Sue Dieter
Sun Tribune

"Our work is done and now it's your turn to go to work." That's how Tom Ososki, chair of the Minnesota Design Team, opened the community gathering on Saturday night.
Ososki and 16 other volunteer members of the Design Team presented their ideas for the future of Morris to a crowd of about 150 people on Saturday night.
They displayed plans that included adaptive reuse of the old elementary property as a sustainable housing project, creation of a civic corridor along Sixth Street, re-development of the parking lot between City Center Mall and Otter Tail Power and extension of recreation trails to the west side of Morris.

The plans were developed in the span of two days. Members of the Design Team spent Friday listening to presentations centering on the town's history, businesses, industry, schools, natural resources, festivals, health care, and community organizations.
Members took a tour of the town, noting old and new buildings, the parks, the University of Minnesota, Morris campus and Main Street. That information was transposed into a series of questions the design team asked residents during a community potluck on Friday night.
Those questions were:
• What has the old elementary school meant to you, what does it mean to you now and what can it mean in the future?
• Is Morris a college town or a town with a college?
• What would make Morris a hip, 21st century town?
• What is the economic center of the community?
• Where is the heart of the community?
From the answers and the earlier information gathering, the design team assembled their future vision for Morris.

Ososki said that Morris is a pretty great town with a lot of assets and opportunities. He noted that the community does not have many serious issues compared to other small towns and that there is a lot to build on.

As for answers to the specific questions, the elementary school property was identified as an unbelievable asset for the community. Specifically, it was noted that the property is in a tremendous location and re-using it for housing encourages population growth within the city limits. The drawings provided suggested that all but the 1914 section of the building should be demolished to allow for loft-style apartments to be constructed. Additionally, a mixture of townhouses and up-scale residential housing was proposed for the 17-acre site, creating “a 21st century, hip, small-city development.”

On the question of whether Morris is a college town or a town with a college, the answer was something of a blend, according to Ososki. "You are a small town with a big asset."

While no physical heart of the town was identified, people were most often cited as the true heart of the community. UMM was identified as the economic center of the town. Ososki commented that UMM is likely the largest employer, but the Team members wanted to improve areas where people do the most economic activity.

That set the stage for discussion of a civic corridor along Sixth Street from the old elementary school to the Stevens County Museum. Suggestions include placing monuments along the route to direct pedestrian traffic from the campus to downtown and improving or expanding sidewalks to allow for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
Planters and benches could replace the trees on Main Street and pedestrian areas near intersections along Atlantic Avenue should be enhanced.

The specific plan the Design Team created for Morris looked like this: First year

Join Morris Design committee.
Place/move public markers.
Add planters on Atlantic Avenue.
Provide new awnings and paint to businesses.
Find hangouts for teenagers.

One to three years
Sidewalk improvements on Sixth Street.
Re-develop internal block behind the City Center Mall.
Phase I of housing at the Elementary site.
Provide boardwalk on west side of Morris.

Five to 10 years
Complete all trail connections.
Continue growth without expansion.
Phase II and III of old elementary school re-use.
Complete Design Standards.

Mayor Carol Wilcox said the community really has its work cut out for it, but expressed confidence that it can be done. She thanked the Design Team members for "helping us make our town greater."

The next step for Morris is organizing committees based on the different areas. The Design Team leaders will visit Morris in six months to see how progress is going.

March 30th-31st Washington D.C. COPC National Conference

Morris Representatives:
Tom M.
David F.
Nora J. (not able)
Sal M.

Wyndham Baltimore Inner Harbor
101 West Fayette Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201

Related Links:

  • Morris Partnership
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