Keosauqua Cultural Action Plan
Community input is the foundation of any placemaking action plan. During three visioning sessions, Keosauqua residents shared their hopes and dreams for the community as well as challenges – both real and perceived – they believe are holding the community back.
Recurring themes throughout the three sessions related to housing and needing more amenities; there are “five bars in town, but no other entertainment.” Many residents also recognized the need to brand the community but wrestled with how that dynamic unfolds with the existing Villages of Van Buren marketing efforts.
Taking a deeper look at housing, residents believe this issue is “one of the greatest challenges.” Prices for new construction have risen dramatically, but there are not many existing units available. Residents in all three sessions echoed the need for a range of more housing units – single-family homes, duplexes, fourplexes, condos, and assisted living, for example. With an aging population, residents recognized the need to have options to downsize if people are to stay in the community.
Residents also believe that enhanced dining options could help keep people of all ages in the community and could draw visitors. Visioning participants believe restaurants should be downtown and have a family-friendly vibe. They would like to see area restaurants leverage the area’s agricultural heritage, thereby supporting tourism in Keosauqua and Van Buren County.
Jobs are another key to success for Keosauqua. Residents noted the “rural renaissance,” with many young people moving back to the community. It took some of these individuals two years to find a job in the community, as there are not many opportunities in certain industries. In other industries, such as education and healthcare, it is hard to find talent to fill open positions.
Residents see enhancing downtown as one way of helping to draw talent. There are a variety of mechanisms by which this could be accomplished, including beautification, better signage, more shops, full usage of all buildings, and connectivity with the broader trails system.
A cultural center is “a definite,” and most residents believe this should be downtown. Residents want the cultural center to offer a range of classes and to leverage a number of existing groups to ensure full use of the space.
A complete summary of the visioning sessions is available in Appendix A. Guided by the community visioning sessions, a number of ideas were vetted to ensure project viability over the long run.