Do we have all-star towns?


The Iowa League of Cities is in the middle of a bracketed Facebook tournament to find Iowa’s People’s All-Star Community.

One Muscatine resident offered a long list of reasons why it should be here.

“Looking at all the changes since the 1990s… no more switch yard on the riverfront, miles of public park along the riverfront, the Mississippi Harvest- public art, Mississippi Mist -splash pad, The Merrill Hotel, Pearl Plaza, Musser Public Library -renovated and adaptive reuse, upscale housing along 2nd and 3rd Streets, and there is more to come,” wrote Jane Daufeldt in the Facebook comments supporting her vote for Muscatine. “Oh, and there is the National Pearl Button Museum telling our history as one of the biggest industries- The Pearl Rush” created growth and economic expansion in the Midwest with the epicenter in Muscatine. Love my hometown!”

Voting takes place in rounds where community supporters vote with a Facebook “like” for their favorite city and project. City projects with the most likes in the current week’s Facebook photo album move to the next round. The final round will conclude at noon on Thursday, Sept. 26. The winner of the People’s All-Star Community Award will be announced later that evening at the Awards Banquet during conference and then featured in a future issue of Cityscape magazine.

“The People’s All-Star tournament is intended to build up a little friendly competition among Iowa towns,” said Alan Kemp, Executive Director for the Iowa League of Cities.  “The Facebook tournament gets some social media engagement that can help towns build up enthusiasm for their projects.”

Muscatine and West Liberty both have projects in the tournament and as of press time, both appear to have the votes needed to advance to the next round, the Elite Eight.

West Liberty’s Recycling Center Project was nominated to the tournament.  The city implemented a single-stream curbside recycling to help make it an easier process for residents and a better recycling program.

In Muscatine, the Mississippi Drive Corridor Reconstruction Project is in the voting. The city and elected officials believe that the revitalized Mississippi Drive corridor will continue to increase vehicular and pedestrian traffic into Riverside Park and the Downtown Muscatine District while also stimulating interest in all the amenities that Muscatine has to offer to visitors and residents.

“Likes” get votes for these projects, yet in true social media fashion, some around the state gain additional social media engagement in the form of individual comments posted about the project.

The Muscatine project, in particular, generated the most significant amount of social media “buzz.”  During round one, the Muscatine project garnered 298 total engagements (273 “likes.” some angry faces, some laughing faces and a few hearts). Most noteworthy is the fact this project had 104 total comments where people offered their opinions both in support and in opposition to the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project.

From one community project we see comments like: “Wonderful asset to our community!”, “Amazing Facility and the Partnerships that built it!!”

However, on the Muscatine voting thread, the comments are many and varied; positive and negative.  You’ll read comments like: “back-in parking is ridiculous,” “Infrastructure does not attract shoppers or tourist. Must have a reason. Work on that first,” “Look at the line of traffic. Bet they didn’t like it so much that day.”

Then you’ll read many more positive statements about the project: “It is much safer to cross the street, traffic has actually slowed down, and this is definitely a huge improvement from the way it looked before!”

“I am a life-long resident and love the new development on River Drive. I have heard comments from visitors they love the ability to see the river while driving down the street.”

“I love what Muscatine has done with the new river drive! From the cool light up signs! To yes the back in parking, most people couldn’t parallel park and would take up more than one space before they did this. The roads are smooth. It brought flowers, greenery, landscape into the design making it much more attractive. The new river drive really makes you slow down and appreciate the historic and renovated downtown Muscatine district. It makes you want to stop and look at what all there really is to do in this town. With the 2nd Saturday events. Farmers market, Thursday almost Friday, Live music from the outdoor patio at the Brew, the water fountain for kids and families to enjoy. The lights on the Old Hotel Muscatine and so much more. Muscatine is a great place to live and visit if you really think about it. Our problems and crime are very minimal compared to almost all other cities our size.”

“It is what it is,” said Kemp about the People’s All-Star Voting comments. “At the league, we do monitor the comments and voting.  Even with the naysayers, we’re creating social media engagements.  We monitor an let it go unless a comment gets too personal, then we’ll take it down.”

Regardless of the Facebook banter, Muscatine City Council member Tom Spread is positive about Muscatine participating in the People’s All-Star Community tournament.

“It gives us regional recognition,” said Spread.  “Other communities are looking at these projects to get ideas about what they can do next in their towns.”

According to the League of Cities, the All-Star Community Award promotes, acknowledges and encourages excellence in local government. The program is designed to recognize the achievements of cities throughout Iowa.

Kemp said it really is an opportunity for people to cheer all that is good about their own town.

Jane Daufeldt, whose post opened this article, is a life-long resident and tireless supporter of Muscatine.  She reminded us of former Mayor Dick O’brien’s mantra: “Good things are happening in Muscatine!”

Supporters of both the Muscatine and West Liberty projects will be able to cast votes (remember, ‘likes’ get votes) by visiting the Iowa League of Cities on Facebook.  @iowaleagueofcities  Find the People’s All-Star Voting Round 3 and scroll to the Muscatine and West Liberty pictures.  Click “like” and share it.

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