When La Vista Mayor Doug Kindig said he wanted to reach out to residents about the 84th Street redevelopment project, those residents included two elementary school students.
Sallay Jangulo, a student at Tara Heights Elementary, and Skye Clary, a student at G. Stanley Hall Elementary, are both Girl Scouts in Troop 42490. As part of their “journey,” the workbook that scouts at the Junior level go through, the girls were assigned to come up with ideas for how an old building could be repurposed.
Their troop leader, Theresa Clary, suggested the old Walmart building on 84th Street would be a good building to use for the project.
“They came back to the next meeting with five or six ideas each and then decided on their favorite three,” Theresa Clary said. “They got really excited and wanted to bump it up to someone at the city level.”
Clary said she didn’t think the city would be particularly interested, but the girls were so excited she didn’t want to say no.
She told the girls they had to write a letter to send to the city if they really wanted to do it, and they did.
“I fully expected we’d get a form email back that just said, ‘Thank you for your time, blah blah blah,’” she said. “Instead, we got an email back that the mayor wanted to meet with them.”
Kindig said he enjoys any opportunities he gets to work with the city’s youth.
“Any time we can touch base with the youth is enjoyable,” he said. “Obviously I’ll encourage any of the youth to get involved with the city. That brings a smile to my face, when the youth are concerned about what’s going on.”
As a father of an Eagle Scout, he said he has a particular soft spot for scout-related events and meetings, including the meeting the Junior Scouts of Troop 42490 set up with him earlier this year.
The girls also met with Chris Solberg, La Vista’s city planner.
Clary said the girls’ meeting with Kindig was a great experience for them.
“He asked them their ideas and shared with them the plans that the city had for the 84th Street area,” she said.
One of the girls’ three ideas was an outdoor amphitheater, which is listed as a recommended element in the Civic Center Park Master Plan. They also suggested a spa, which the mayor said would be in line with some of the mom-and-pop shops the city wants to get into that area, Clary said.
“It was kind of fun how their ideas coincided with the ideas that the city had already been planning,” she said.
Clary said the girls’ third idea, a water park, was not quite in line with what the city has in mind. La Vista has put the possibility of working on the city’s aging swimming pool up for two bond issue votes, but both were defeated by the voters, so the pool will remain as it is for the foreseeable future.
Kindig said he was impressed with the girls’ ideas.
“To be honest, what they came up with was very close to what our Vision 84 plan is,” he said. “They talked about a place where families could do things and a place for shopping, and they liked the idea of the parks. The city did all that dang work and held all those meetings, and the Girl Scouts came up with a plan that had some similarities to it!”
Clary said the experience was both educational and exciting for the girls.
“They had a really good time, and they were both very attentive,” she said. “The mayor explained things to them so well and on their level. They really understood the plan and the thoughts the city had in mind after meeting with him. It was a really good government learning experience.”
It was also a lesson in how government officials can make a difference.
“To get a response like that from the mayor was very impressive,” Clary said. “It was a very exciting time for them.”