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Ralston revitalization project gets boost with huge donation

Woman's dying wish to help Ralston development
Posted at 6:42 PM, Dec 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-19 19:42:14-05

RALSTON, Neb. (KMTV) — Since 2014, Ralston city leaders have wanted to redevelop areas near 72nd and Main Streets to serve "as a connection between the arena and the city’s downtown." Thanks to a large donation from a resident on her death bed, they say the project is well on its way.

Debra Groesser has owned an art gallery in downtown Ralston since 1996. The city is everything to her.

"I've lived her almost 50 years," she says. The mayor and I got married and I said I wasn't leaving Ralston."

It's a family affair.

"Our little five-way intersection is so unique and it's just kind of a gathering place for everybody," she says.

Her husband, Ralston Mayor Don Groesser, agrees.

"We want input from the whole community to rebuild our community," he says. "It's a family, this is a family folks."

To rebuild the community, the city has its sights set on the Hinge Project.

"If Ralston is to grow we need to compete with other areas in the Metro and attract private-sector development that brings new money into our community," the mayor says.

The Hinge Project will serve as an entryway to the city that would lead to the Ralston Arena. City Council approved the master plan this past November. The plan includes mixed-use housing units, a park, restaurants, stores and bars.

The conceptual design for the project is set to wrap up in the spring of 2020 and that's when a set cost will be determined but that cost just got a boost from the Johnson family...specifically, the late LaDonna Johnson.

The former Ralston resident provided the city with $7.5 million for the revitalization project, a gift promised on her death bed, while she battled cancer.

The money will be used to fund studies relating to the project to get the Hinge project on it's feet. The Groessers says this will help taxpayers since initial investments won't be coming from taxes.