For Stan Staab, Dr. Gordon Adams, Darrell Novacek, Joe Ferguson, Lonn Atwood, Jim Miller and many others, this has been a long time coming.
These current and former Norfolkans are among the many individuals who have wanted to see the North Fork of the Elkhorn River be more fully developed into the quality-of-life gem that they believed it could be.
Many of these individuals were present in the early 1990s when the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District, the City of Norfolk and other entities pushed to revive the 1974 planning for Johnson Park and the adjacent river.
They were around in 2008 when public forums to gather input on the “river walk” concept took place as momentum grew.
And, more recently, they’ve watched and participated with interest in the progress made by city government, the Lower Elkhorn NRD, the Greater Norfolk Economic Development Foundation and civic leaders in developing plans and securing funding to help a riverfront project go from nothing more than a dream to a blossoming reality.
What’s on the horizon is a multimillion-dollar project that will appeal to virtually everyone — anglers, bicyclists, joggers, kayakers, canoeists, stand-up paddle boarders, rafters, tubers, bird watchers, picnickers. Plans include features such as fishing access, observation points, pedestrian bridges, an amphitheater, festival spaces, playground elements and fountain/water features.
The riverfront development is one of the key parts of the Growing Together initiative spearheaded by Sen. Mike Flood, the Aksarben Foundation, Mayor Josh Moenning, Wayne State College, Northeast Community College and many other individuals and entities.
Norfolk and area residents and businesses have the opportunity now to be part of making this project a reality, too. A fund-raising campaign is underway to raise the remaining $2.5 million needed to push the effort over the top.
Grants, donations and other funding sources already are covering more than 75% of the overall project cost.
Norfolk is deservedly proud of the improvements seen in recent years in the downtown area.
The riverfront project would be a capstone to all those efforts and raise the city to an entirely new level. Those interested
in contributing can go to https://northforkriverfront.com to play their part. We certainly encourage many to consider doing so.
The mission statement of the NorthFork Development Project is clear and to the point: To create a recreational, residential, entertainment, and retail/business corridor along the North Fork River to enhance the quality of life for the City of Norfolk and Northeast Nebraska.
There’s no question that it will be mission accomplished with a successful fundraising campaign.