New Heartland Visioning executive director has big plans for Topeka

Some big change are coming to the Capital City – that’s what the new executive director of Heartland Visioning, John Hunter, is promising.

“You’re talking to one of the most excited guys in the city,” Hunter says.

He’s got a vision – and he’s now in a position to make it a reality – as the new executive director of Heartland Visioning.

“It’s a network of people who see the big picture, they want to work to improve the big picture and they really have all of us in mind,” Hunter says.

He’s been involved with the organization for five years – as chair of the Quality of Life Foundation and as co-chair of the NOTO Arts District.

“A wonderful, exciting place over there right now,” Hunter says of NOTO, “Drawing 2,000 people on a first friday artwalk night.”

So where will we see the next big change? Hunter says it’ll be at the riverfront.

“That has, for many people that I talk to in the community, fallen off the screen,” says Hunter, “But the reality is, that is just starting to break loose and we probably have 5, maybe 6-year window at which point that’s going to be done.”

With the downtown revitalization also in the works, Hunter says the end goal is to string the success spots together into a dynamic core area.

“So if you start thinking of an area from NOTO, to the Great Overland Station, to the development of riverfront park, to having an actual river, kayak races, sail boating, whatever, to a new downtown with historic elements, that is a tremendous urban development plan,” Hunter says.

He adds, his big focus going forward is on communication – letting people in the community know what plans he has, and asking how he can help with theirs.

Former executive director, William Betetta resigned in December. Shortly after that, the Joint Economic Development Organization, known as JEDO, voted to stop giving Heartland Visioning $60,000 a year from sales tax revenue. Hunter says he’ll have fundraisers to keep the office going.

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