A game changer for Ralston

A piano teacher’s generosity and love for her community is forever changing the landscape of downtown Ralston.

Members of the Ralston Community Foundation Fund have been entrusted with a $7.5 million gift from the late LaDonna Johnson that will provide momentum to fuel the community’s longtime economic development vision, better known as the Hinge Project.

The Hinge Project will work to establish a distinct identity for the community located just nine miles southwest of Omaha. The idea came out of the city’s 10-year comprehensive plan and will include strategies to create a more vibrant and attractive downtown like filling empty businesses, creating more housing options and mixed-use developments, entertainment and dining areas, and new amenities for both Ralston residents and visitors to the community.

In February, community leaders involved with the Hinge Project, members of the Ralston Community Foundation Fund Advisory Committee, and HDR (the engineering company contracted for the project) hosted a vision workshop which invited Ralston residents to voice their thoughts on the attractions and amenities that could energize downtown. Many ideas emerged from that meeting that will inform future decisions about green spaces, parks, streetscapes and other features.

Though LaDonna is no longer living, project leaders are taking their responsibility to uphold her intentions and legacy very seriously.

“LaDonna’s wishes are at the top of mind in every conversation we have about the Hinge Project,” said Ralston city administrator, Rick Hoppe.

“LaDonna’s legacy will live on forever through her generosity and her belief in the future of Ralston,” said Bill Haas, FAC chair. “This is a gamechanger for our community.”