If you had told me 15 years ago that the attitudes and culture of Wabash Valley residents regarding the Wabash River would completely change and that we would have complete and continued cooperation from local, state and federal elected officials to work towards that end, I would have been both encouraged and skeptical.
As a member of the Terre Haute City Council and a long-time RiverSCAPE board member (as a city council liaison), I get excited when I witness incredible cooperation of true visionaries. As I look at our existing RiverSCAPE board today, I see not only representatives of business, banking, marketing, tourism, journalism, land development, Economic Development, University leadership and Chamber members, but also several members of local government all working together. Elected and appointed government representation today includes a city mayor, city council, county council, county commissioners, school board member, county parks superintendent, former county parks superintendent, city engineer and former city engineer. As I have said many times, it doesn’t matter which political party you belong to when you can agree on a good idea that benefits the entire community.
This incredible “buy-in” from various individuals and groups has allowed RiverSCAPE to experience frequent media coverage that showcases several success stories, which has helped grow additional community support. As an avid follower of our news stories through the years, I have witnessed several features and benefits of RiverSCAPE. Media coverage has given me (and I hope others) tremendous hope of a new type of investment being made in our community that will positively touch all of our lives. Here is a list of words and phrases that have been used to describe RiverSCAPE and the features and benefits I hope to see continue:
COMMUNITY BENEFITS: healthy rivers, clean water, watershed, riverfront, wetlands, improved ecosystem, extended government campus, river walk, clean air, university connectivity, destination town, open grassland, wildlife habitat, bird hub, nature conservancy, brownfield restoration, tourist attraction, quality of life and quality of place.
COMMUNITY FEATURES: bird watching, butterfly watching, crew-rowing, kayaking, art spaces, riverfront housing, riverside lofts, animal habitat, hunting, walking, running and riding trails, cross country, revitalized river, handicap accessible and look out points
Today, as I see more people turn-to-the-river, that has become both a dream and a reality, I see more exciting success stories ahead. As progress surrounding our unique natural waterway continues, I ask you to remain optimistic and talk positively to your friends, neighbors and, visitors about this exciting cultural change in the Wabash Valley. Imagine what we can accomplish when we all work together.
Terre Haute City Councilman