By Taylor Brown – Imagine downtown Liberty as a more vibrant and energetic gathering place, a college-town atmosphere in a quaint and historical town square. That is the goal of ACIR (Applied Civic Integration and Redevelopment), an alliance between William Jewell College and the City of Liberty formed to foster redevelopment initiatives centered on Liberty Square.
Under the ACIR banner, four William Jewell College students function as facilitators between the College and the City of Liberty with the help of Kurt Pycior of Pycior and Company who is also a member of the Liberty Downtown Task Force.
ACIR was intentional in its branding by choosing an appropriate name that fit its mission. As college students performing analysis and research on Liberty’s downtown revitalization, the word “Applied” fit perfectly. “Civic Integration” came from the idea of bringing the City of Liberty together as one community through this revitalized downtown core. The final piece, “Redevelopment,” is crucial because the task force is not starting from scratch with this project; instead, it aims to use the existing structures and attractions of downtown Liberty in different ways to draw residents, students, alumni, and tourists alike.
ACIR is a supported organization of the College under the supervision of Dr. Kelli Schutte, chair of the Department of Business and Leadership, and Dr. Gary Armstrong, chair of the Department of Political Science.
As participants in the ACIR project, students earn academic credit and are equipped with iPad2 tablet computers to assist with communication and various assignments. The students involved during the 2011-12 academic year are Political Science majors Matt Walje ’12 and Mark Perez ’12 along with Business Administration majors Taylor Brown ’14 and Chris Stathopoulos ’14.
Over the past several months, the group has conducted a student-wide survey and an on-campus focus group seeking suggestions to make Liberty Square an attractive student destination. In addition, the team has researched the feasibility and costs associated with deploying WIFI access in the downtown area and is currently in the process of forming an alumni task force to assist with the creation of a strong affiliation among alumni, current students, and the Liberty community.