Gladstone: Shaping Our Future

An innovative, welcoming community with outstanding business, educational and recreational opportunities for all.

Project Overview

Resident-led strategic planning has helped transform Gladstone, Missouri. Strong engagement led to new buildings, new programs and a new way of doing business.

With an aging population, strict boundaries that prevented physical growth, declining revenues, a stagnant business environment, and inadequate city services, Gladstone, Missouri, was a small suburban city with some serious challenges. There was only one ambulance and two paramedics to provide emergency services, and there was no place to house the city’s recreational programs for youth. With technical assistance from the National Civic League, more than 150 residents participated in the community effort known as Gladstone on the Move in 2003.

The group identified six key performance areas (KPAs):
  1. Business and Economic Development
  2. Neighborhoods
  3. Community Center
  4. City Services
  5. Education
  6. Identity and Regionalism

The group researched and discussed the issues and put together a list of priorities.

Strategy

Gladstone on the Move came up with a plan that could be used to guide the city during the next twenty years. Next step: Create an implementation committee to figure out a timeline and an action plan for achieving the desired results. The residents themselves recommended Gladstone’s first ever property tax increase to the city council and also the extension of a sales tax that was about to expire to pay for parks and recreation needs. The council put the tax increases on the ballot, and Gladstone on the Move campaigned to get them passed. The community now has a complete ambulance service that is fully staffed; it supplies not only basic life support for getting people to a hospital but advanced life support for people suffering heart attacks, strokes, and other medical emergencies. Gladstone on the Move was also the catalyst to build the Gladstone Community Center with a full natatorium in partnership with the local school district and create a downtown center with Linden Square as the anchor. As Gladstone residents discovered, communities that deal successfully with the challenges they face have a clear sense of their past. They also have a shared picture of where they want to go.

Having achieved Gladstone on the Move’s key goals, such as the downtown, a Leadership Academy, Gladstone Community Center and a free ambulance service, the city contracted with National Civic League in 2015 to revisit their strategic plan for the next 10 years. This process, Gladstone: Shaping Our Future, was comprised of a dedicated group of over a hundred volunteers, many of whom had participated in the Leadership Academy or had been inspired by the Gladstone on the Move results, who met for a year to create the new plan that would make Gladstone: An innovative, welcoming community with outstanding business, educational and recreational opportunities for all. Enhancing community leadership opportunities is one key outcome from any National Civic League strategic planning project, the Gladstone process came full circle in January 2017 when the Gladstone City Council, led by the Mayor who had been the original volunteer co-chair of Gladstone on the Move, approved the plan. Gladstone: Shaping Our Future is currently in its implementation phase working on several projects such as rebranding the downtown area, building an arts and culture center and upgrades to the fire station, civic courts and jail.
A city utilizing an innovative approach to expanding economic opportunities and retaining existing businesses that will cater to all demographics.
Gladstone should aspire to be the healthiest and safest community in the Kansas City Metro Area.
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