Roger Auestad, a long-time Story City community leader, often said, “Have you ever seen a prettier entrance into a city?” What a great question — is there another community in Iowa with such a magnificent entrance and why is it so important?

When driving into Story City from the Interstate, one will notice the golf course, Prairie Park, the North and South Parks, Antique Carousel and a new swimming pool.

The city recently completed the refurbishment of the South Park and the new swimming pool is right across the street. This year, the city will undertake the initial phase of improvements to the North Park which include the tennis court area, a plaza area around the carousel, a new picnic shelter and a trail. The city will also be reconstructing Broad Street from the pool parking lot to Grand Avenue.

The entrance is the first and last thing you experience about a community. The entrance tells you immediately what kind of city you are in. Does it say your community is vibrant or dying; progressive or status quo; dynamic or boring; welcoming or unfriendly; charming or a dump; a place you want to visit and live or a place to leave as soon as possible?

What does the entrance into Story City tell someone?

A number of years ago, I was sitting at a baseball game at the Carousel Field with someone from Ames. He observed the baseball game taking place, kids jumping off the diving board, a gathering taking place at Fairview Lodge, people picnicking in the park and said, “this is what small town America is all about.”

It tells one we are a vibrant, progressive, dynamic, welcoming, charming, and a place you would want to visit and live. Yes, it is important to our success that Story City’s entrance be all of this and more if we want people and businesses to stay here and move here.

What distinguishes our entrance from other cities?

It’s Historic with the swinging bridge and the refurbished shelter in the South Park. It’s Velkommening (that’s Welcoming for you non-Norwegians) with the signage that greets you at the entrance into the community and the wayfinding signage that helps you get to where you want to go. It’s Unique with the Antique Carousel. It’s Striking with the golf course and the clubhouse. It’s a place for people to Gather with all the features in the North Park. It’s Impressive with the new swimming pool near the high school. Taken together it gives those of us who live here and those visiting that sense of place, a connection, and an integral part of our community.

When traveling, I’m always reminded about the importance of entrances and there importance on how we as residents view our city and what visitors think of our community. That first impression and that last impression of Story City is what leaves a lasting memory; and life is but the memories we create.

As I come into the entrances of many other communities, I’ve concluded that Roger is right — there is no “prettier” entrance than Story City. Once these projects are completed, none will be “Grander.”