This week Shawnee residents were afforded an opportunity to offer their views and suggestions regarding the direction they wish the city to go.

This week Shawnee residents were afforded an opportunity to offer their views and suggestions regarding the direction they wish the city to go.

On Tuesday the City of Shawnee hosted a public event, welcoming impressions and opinions as the city designs a comprehensive plan to guide its growth and development over the next 20 years.

About 30 residents took part in a kickoff discussion with RDG Planning & Design to brainstorm issues, concerns and opportunities over several topics of interest.

Breaking into smaller groups, participants took on major topics of discussion like transportation; parks and recreation; housing; the downtown district; planned use and development; and community appearance.

After about half an hour of brainstorming, groups came back and reported their issues of concern, potential for opportunities and possible plans of action around their assigned topic.

These efforts will then be used by RDG to develop some unified goals to base a plan around.

RDG's Principal-in-Charge Amy Haase said the firm intends to bring a more specific set of goals back to the community around the first week of August so another round of workshops can begin to develop the plan further.

Community Development Director Justin DeBruin said the city's last comprehensive plan was done in 2005.

He said RDG was chosen, partly because of its clearly defined goals, as well as its intentional focus on implementation.

The city's previous plan probably had less of a strategic element as its focus, Haase said.

DeBruin said the former plan, however, was useful in two areas: having something to compare to when making decisions on each planning commission case; and making grand plans moving forward.

But this time around the city not only has its eyes honed in on future plans, but also how to achieve those goals.

“What RDG did differently (than other proposals) was its great detail and attention to implementation,” he said.

Local input

As he discussed the city's Comprehensive Plan during a recent commission meeting, DeBruin announced scheduled events and surveys lined up for feedback.

“The creation of several online surveys, really meant for different groups — one that is ready right now is for citizens at-large to go to the website to look at; it's five to eight minutes long, it's quite short,” he said.

The online version of the survey is available at shawneeplan.com. For those who would rather fill out physical forms, paper copies are available at 222 N. Broadway Ave. Residents are encouraged to take the survey.

“The more input, the better,” Haase said.

Other surveys are being developed, not only for the commission, but for the advisory committee, as well, DeBruin said.

“What staff has done over the last month and a half is sending invites to a variety of individuals from different sectors in Shawnee — government, education, nonprofit, for-profit, etc.,” DeBruin said.

He said this week groups of eight to 10 people across seven sessions have been having discussions, answering questions and giving feedback, at this early stage.

“The hope is to have as many citizens as possible come out, learn a little bit more about the comprehensive plan process, ask questions and really garner some feedback from them via some smaller activities that we plan to host,” he said.

Much of Wednesday is set for advisory committee work, DeBruin said.

Once the June events are complete, the hope in July is to have that Shawnee Today report to present to the commission, he said.

According to DeBruin, the intent of the community-wide feedback is to gather input so an overall vision can be developed.

• What is a Comprehensive Plan?

A Comprehensive Plan is a guidebook for the community. It provides a vision of the future for the community and lists the steps needed to achieve that vision. Based on the recommendations from the Comprehensive Plan, city officials can make decisions that will affect land use, capital investments, and infrastructure.

• Why is a Plan Needed?

One of the responsibilities of the local government is to plan for future growth and development of the community. The goal of the Comprehensive Plan is to address future development in a proactive manner, rather than reactive. Without a Comprehensive Plan, the community and government would be reacting to development changes — resulting decisions may not be best for the community and could be costly.

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