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Seeking input is the right thing to do

The value of the Des Moines River corridor to Fort Dodge and Webster County is undeniable.

That was underscored in two meetings Wednesday evening during which the public’s input was sought regarding the corridor’s condition now, and its terrific potential for the future.

The meetings to seek public input for the Webster County/Fort Dodge Riverfront Master Plan were held at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park and Dolliver Memorial State Park.

“I cherish that river,” said John Anderson, who lives along the river south of Dolliver. “It’s beautiful.”

Balancing a vision for the river’s future and dreams of drawing people to it with the tranquility so cherished by those who own its abutting private property will, no doubt, be an issue.

But as a resource, as a beautiful example of a natural resource, it is meant to be cherished by everyone. To that end, the people who attended the two meetings offered a few suggestions.

More trails and better access to the water would be welcome, some of those people said.

Then there’s the future of the Hydroelectric Dam on the stretch through Fort Dodge. That wasn’t definitively addressed during Wednesday’s session at Kennedy Park.

“We need to decide what we want the river to do and have that inform us on what to do with the dam,” said Doug Hammel, a senior associate with Houseal Lavigne Associates, of Chicago, Illinois,

The company is preparing the master plan. The plan is a joint effort of the city and county governments that’s being paid for with a $90,000 grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. It’s being completed in conjunction with a new comprehensive plan being drafted by the company for Fort Dodge.

During one of the meetings Richard Longnecker, of Fort Dodge, cautioned against creating an overly complex plan.

“You’ve got to leave it a river,” he said. “You can’t over do it.”

Whatever happens, however the community goes forward with the greater plan, asking the people who live along the Des Moines River is crucial. They purchased property there with certain expectations, and their ownership deserves respect.

Seeking their input, as well as that of others who have dreams of what they want the river to be, is the right thing to do.

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