Josh Moenning NDN

NORFOLK — Here’s a quick spotlight on the final two of the four key areas which act as ready-made stimulus for a local economy poised to bounce back and regain its momentum.

Quality of Life Investment

We continue to build Norfolk’s future by preserving its past, including plans to reconnect people to the city’s namesake, the North Fork. Creating partnerships and leveraging grants has helped us move forward with engineering plans to remove the spillway at First Street and restore the river to its natural course, reconnecting it to Johnson Park and making the area safe and accessible for recreation.

We also continue park and trail expansions throughout town, encouraging people to engage with nature and utilize the regional asset we have in the Cowboy Trail. Our “2020 in 2020” tree planting campaign has already exceeded its goal; we’ve distributed and planted 2,075 trees in Norfolk in just two months. And the long-awaited Skate Park rebuild, made possible by city planning and grant-making, will see construction begin in the next few weeks.

Plans for a downtown gathering space — Riverpoint Square — to be used for farmers markets and festivals have been creatively redesigned and aided by new funding partnerships. On the horizon a community solar and battery storage project, a city partnership with the Nebraska Public Power District and a first of its kind in the state, will offer citizens renewable options and help lower energy bills.

Housing Construction

A drive around town would provide anyone who cares to know a good idea of the real-life housing development environment in Norfolk. The rate of new construction is historically unprecedented. Nearly 350 new housing units are currently under construction. They span projects like Norpark, Wyndham Hills, Walters East Knolls, Legacy Bend, Victory Village, Medelman’s Lake, Madison Villas, etc. Hundreds more units are planned in future phases of these projects and others. These critical additions bring a unique new variety and diversity to the market; they include a mix of high quality multi-family rental units, townhomes, affordable single family homes, and large lot developments. These projects, in many cases facilitated by city-guided incentive policies and infrastructure investment, are distributed throughout Norfolk, bringing new housing options to areas that haven’t seen development for decades.

“The best way out is through.”

These plans and projects collectively form a uniquely Norfolkan stimulus program, and they’ll help us push through this unfortunate, unanticipated period and get back to business.

Still, I’ve heard some question moving forward with existing plans, as if this virus should be an excuse to stall anything and everything. This is small-mindedness. Hand-wringing and second-guessing are the refuge of those content to stand in place. The way out won’t be found sitting on the sidelines.

It was industriousness and the ability to move forward without fear that helped our immigrant founders build this community from nothing. It was prudential investment and resilience that carried us past last year’s historic flooding. And it will be the perseverance that comes with confidence in strategic action that guides us through this uncertain time, positioning us to come out of it even better and stronger in the end.

JOSH MOENNING

Mayor of Norfolk

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