About a year ago, the state of Iowa began conducting public information sessions around the state to talk about its brand new Great Places program. The meetings were informative yet cryptic, inspiring yet confusing.

It might be safe to say the same about Clinton’s “Even More Things to do With a River View” Great Places project, one of three designated as Great Places pilot communities. There is a lot of talk about the great things that could happen in town — a public access beach area, construction of North River Drive and a high-class disc golf course at Eagle Point Park among them. But there are few concrete details about where all the money is coming from and exactly what the state will do for us as a Great Places town.

Part of the answers came a few weeks ago as Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson was in town to mark the governor’s signing of a bill that appropriates $1 million to Clinton and the other Great Places, Coon Rapids and Sioux City. The money will be used by the local Great Places group as leverage when applying for grant funding to pay for the many aspects of the project.

Chamber officials have vowed to turn the $1 million into $10 million. That’s a lofty goal, to be sure, but why not set a high standard? Why not have a vision for the future of the community and then step forth to make that vision a reality? Grant money, especially when it comes from businesses or nationwide non-profit agencies, is all about using other people’s money to make our town better. And Great Places is all about using state government agencies and resources to help facilitate development in Iowa communities, hopefully cutting through the red tape that has tied up too many things to count over recent years, not just in Clinton but throughout the state.

Some have decried Clinton’s Great Places project as a “pie in the sky” dream that represents nothing but a waste of time and money. We say hogwash. What we see is a vision and a plan for the future, a plan that builds off of the Riverview Park designs that gave birth to the Vision Iowa project that already has had a significant impact on the downtown park scene.

The entire comprehensive effort will make sure the residents of Clinton have a park system to be truly proud of. What we have now is great, what we have planned for the future is fantastic. Could we sit idly by and be happy with the status quo? Of course. It would be cheaper, after all, to stay small and hope no one notices as the world grows up around us.

But it would be better to strive to improve, to grow, to develop. We obviously should maintain a healthy link to the past and for goodness sakes don’t go fixing that which isn’t already broken. But we look at the things promised through Vision Iowa and Great Places, and we see a brighter tomorrow, a better Clinton for our children and grandchildren.

To us, that’s more than worth the effort.

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