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Public-input phase of Destination Medical Center kicks off

Tim Rabe, Dustin Snell and Andrew Golish of Midwest Signtech in Rochester, Minn. apply vinyl window posters made from information gathered from the Destination Medical Center public input boards to the north windows of the Massey Building facing 2nd Street Wednesday afternoon November 13, 2013 in downtown Rochester, Minn.

Destination Medical Center planners this week kicked off the project's formal public-input phase, the first step in drawing up a DMC Development Plan by January 2015.

A group of 100 DMC ambassadors, members of the community who meet regularly and brainstorm about the expansion of Mayo Clinic and Rochester, came up with the idea of posting banners across the Massey Building on the corner of Second Street and First Avenue Southwest.

The signs say DMC ambassadors spent four months gathering community input.

"Of course, all ideas may not be feasible," the introductory sign says, "but it has been great to see our community thinking big!"

Input will continue to be gathered until June, including possible public forums and social media events.


Between June and December 2014, the ideas will be used to create a plan.

That framework will go through a public input process, required by statute, and eventually will be considered for approval by the DMC Economic Development Agency and after that by the DMC Corp. board and the Rochester City Council, which still has authority over development projects in the community.

After projects are approved, the implementation phase will begin — in January 2015.

Private developers likely will start DMC-related projects of their own before community-generated ideas get going, as several already have been announced.

Ideas from the community, such as "embrace winter" and make a "downtown playground," are abstract at this point.

But others are specific.

Christina Snell, owner of Midwest Signtech, which created and installed the banners Wednesday, said, as a small-business owner, she wanted to understand DMC but didn't really know much about it — until she saw input for the banners. One idea she likes is creating an ice-skating park downtown, though she wonders if there's space for it.

"I just had a romantic vision of all the white lights year-round," she said. In winter it would be a snow-laced skating rink. In summer, a grass-covered park.


"How many people come from Florida and have never been ice skating?" she wondered aloud.

Passing by shortly after Snell spoke was Mike Haygood and his wife Ginny of Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. They came to Rochester for a one-week stay so a family member could get a medical check at Mayo Clinic.

They chose to come to Mayo in Rochester because they wanted an appointment as soon as possible and the Rochester clinic had one before Mayo Clinic Florida.

Mike Haygood said his family first got a rental car but gave it up because they were able to walk wherever they needed to go in downtown Rochester. They had a few hours free between appointments Wednesday — and today they have the whole day free, a common occurrence for Mayo patients.

"My wife and I, we just like to explore — see the city," Haygood said. Families, he said, "are under a lot of stress because they're coming here with sick family members."

So, he would like DMC to offer stress-relieving activities, such as a movie theater close enough to walk to.

His biggest interest in DMC relates to transportation. He likes the skyway and subway systems. But he'd like to see a rail system or shuttle so he can hop on at Saint Marys and go directly to the Gonda Building without having to walk or figure out how to get to the next appointment.

Indeed, DMC planners already have indicated they plan a shuttle system that will circle from downtown to the university and back.


In addition, they expanded their seven topics of focus by adding transportation to hospitality and conventions, health and wellness, sports and recreation, livable city, arts and culture, research and technology, and learning environment.

DMC ambassador Jamie Rothesaid planners will host "big events" starting in January that will feature the focus areas. Ambassadors, she said, will pick a focus, such as sports, and create an event such as a tournament to get people interested in sports together in one venue. They'll be polled for DMC ideas while attending the event.

Other events, for example, might focus on city walkways for the health-and-wellness focus. Planners want the "community to be a part" of the planning process, Rothe said. Ambassadors are working to maintain excitement about what's to come and "keep conversation going."

The ideas will feed into a master plan, and in January 2015, "that's when you'll start to see that master plan implemented," Rothe said.

"It's so exciting. It's such a great opportunity for us to get input," said Lisa Clarke, EDA executive director, DMCC board secretary and Mayo's DMC administrator.

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