People’s vision for downtown evident in planning process

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Consultant David Rubin explained the public-engagement process for the Envision Columbus downtown strategic plan Wednesday night at Columbus City Hall.

The Envision Columbus strategic plan for downtown Columbus has begun to take shape. What’s clear from the get-go is that it will utilize widespread engagement.

That includes focus groups made of up people with similar interests to large downtown stakeholder groups and a series of public meetings open to all.

Ideas are being sought for the geographical area bounded by 22nd Street to the north, the Flat Rock and East Fork White Rivers to the west, the confluence of the East Fork White River and Haw Creek to the south and California Street to the east.

The new downtown strategic plan will replace the 2005 version that has largely been fulfilled.

DAVID RUBIN Land Collective, the hired consultant, is leading the planning process, which is in full swing. Already, Rubin has had meetings with:

  • The 23-member steering committee on Feb. 16
  • A focus group of about 20 Columbus retailers on March 2
  • A focus group of about 20 young professionals on March 28
  • About 45 people representing local nonprofits, key employers and business leaders on March 28

Three two-hour community input sessions are coming up that will allow for more important feedback. They are scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. April 23, May 30 and July 9 at Columbus City Hall, 123 Washington St.

Rubin asks focus group participants offer ideas in six areas: connectivity, activation, resiliency, livability, recreation and culture. The March 28 evening focus group with the 45 participants liked ideas such as:

  • Streets shared for multiple purposes, like festivals
  • Urban grocery
  • Tree-lined streets
  • Neighborhood parks
  • Street festivals and outdoor gardens

The same focus group also identified a need for housing that serves middle-income and low-income households.

If attending an upcoming public session is not possible, residents can get involved and share their ideas by taking an online survey. Go to envisioncolumbus.org, click on “Get Involved” and then click “Take The Survey.”

Sept. 1 is the scheduled end of the six-month planning process, and then Rubin’s group will complete final documentation from the engagement and planning process and assemble a proposed strategic plan for the community.

We’re encouraged to see the level of public participation that is planned for this process, drawing on residents of different ages and backgrounds. That leaves no doubt that the new strategic plan will draw strength from the extensive engagement process.

That should result in a new strategic plan that meets the needs and desires of Columbus and its residents quite well.

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