Iowa Board of Regents on behalf of the City of Vinton
The City of Vinton, Iowa needed to come to consensus around a very divisive local topic and develop a community vision regarding whether the community should take ownership of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School (IBSSS) facilities and grounds. To solve this problem, the Institute for Decision Making (IDM) was enlisted to work on behalf of the city to assist in gauging community interest in taking over ownership.
Taking over ownership of the former IBSSS facilities and grounds is a big initiative for Vinton and while it’s viewed by some to be a tremendous opportunity, others saw it to be an unwieldy burden.
IDM facilitated a visioning process for Vinton, which first engaged a Vision Team whose members included a diverse cross-section of community leaders ranging from city officials and area service providers to IBSSS alumni, residents and business owners. The Vision Team prioritized the community’s primary needs as housing, government services complex, indoor/outdoor recreation, tourism, education, and additional commercial space.
IDM researched national best practices in adaptive reuse to share with the community and facilitated a “Community Idea and Input Expo” to gather feedback from community members. The Over 125 community members attended the Expo where a majority of the attendees identified that reuse of the IBSSS is very important to the community of Vinton.
Following the Expo, IDM worked with the Vision Team to review the public’s input and to draft a set of recommendations for the City Council to consider in deliberations with the Board of Regents. The Team came to a unanimous consensus that the City of Vinton should pursue ownership of the IBSSS property if specific terms could be negotiated with the Board of Regents. The Vinton/IBSSS visioning process is an example of how a community can come together around challenges, work through differences of opinion, and address short-term issues while taking advantage of long-term opportunities.