Newton's Future: A Comprehensive Plan, was adopted by City Council in October 2012, and has been used extensively by the City of Newton, partner organizations, and volunteers who are all working together to help Newton shine brightly into the future. A few highlights of Comprehensive Plan projects currently underway include:
•Main Street Iowa
Newton underwent an extensive application process and was accepted into the Iowa Main Street Program in February. The Main Street Program will help to drive more business, more events, and more renovation in the downtown district. Learn more at www.facebook.com/NewtonMainStreet
•Get to Know Newton
For the past several months, community leaders and volunteers have been working together to create a new image for the Newton community. On February 11, we launched the "Get to Know Newton" brand at a massive community rally. Learn more at www.GetToKnowNewton.com.
Last fall, the United Way of Jasper County launched "Get Connected" an online program which helps to connect volunteers with local volunteer opportunities. Learn more at http://getconnected.unitedwayofjaspercounty.org.
•First Avenue of Art and Sculpture
Sculpture pads were installed last fall along First Avenue for a new sculpture program, First Avenue of Art and Sculpture. This program, administered by the Iowa Sculpture Festival, is currently seeking entries for the freshman year of the sculpture program. Entries must be submitted by March 7, 2014. For more information, call 641-521-3554.
•Newton Wellness Coalition
The Newton Wellness Coalition is a new organization that strives to promote health and wellness in innovative ways throughout our community. The organization’s theme for 2014 is “Connect Your Pieces of Wellness.” The focus of this year’s campaign is fitness, nutrition and social well-being. Learn more at www.facebook.com/newtonwellnesscoalition.
•Create a Downtown Historic District
Akay Consulting has submitted the draft nomination form for the Newton Downtown Historic District to the State Historic Preservation Office for review and comment. Newton is still on pace for an anticipated September designation of the Downtown District to the National Register of Historic Places.
•Keep Iowa Beautiful Community Coach Program
Newton is working together with other communities across Jasper County to join the Keep Iowa Beautiful Community Coach program. This program provides communities with a “community coach” who will assist towns with establishing and implementing community beautification plans as well as assisting with finding grants and teaching community members how to successfully apply for grants.
•Focus on hazardous intersections with sight distance issues
City Council began tackling this on-going issue with the creation of a four-way stop at the N 2nd Avenue W and W 3rd Street N intersection. In addition, City Council addressed safety concerns on E 19th Street N.
•Park and Ride Study
Newton was approved by CIRTPA (Central Iowa Regional Transportation Planning Association) for the funding of a Park and Ride Study. Staff will begin the coordination process with CIRTPA on project “next steps”- which would include study design and request for proposals from consultants.
•Financial and Payroll software
The City is under contract with Civic Systems to implement this software upgrade this spring. This will greatly improve efficiency and provide valuable tools to better track, analyze, and manage the City’s financial resources. It will also be valuable in the human resources and permitting functions of the City.
•Accessibility of Public Buildings and Public Sidewalks
A design and easement acquisition process has just begun to address the non-accessible sidewalk and stair steps located between Hawkeye Stages and Spahn & Rose. This pathway is a key connector between Hy-Vee and the residents at Suncrest Village. Handicapped citizens have been observed struggling to maneuver the sidewalk and stairs at this location.
Specifications for the way-finding signage project have been developed. The review and approval process with the Iowa DOT on those signs located within the State right-of-way continues.
•Renovation of 1st Ave W Railroad Bridge
Railroad officials have tentatively approved the idea of sandblasting the old, chipped paint. Public Works department is in process of developing the bid package for the project, which will require approval by the Railroad and Iowa DOT.