Resident-Centered Planning – Independence, OR

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Project at a Glance

  • Issue Area Community vision and values
  • Engagement Approaches Community conversations/dialogues, Surveys and data
Project Description

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Resident-Centered Planning

Everything starts with the City’s community engagement efforts.  After the massive public input that went into the 1996 planning process, the City carried that momentum forward by creating public design committees and task forces to support important infrastructure projects.  A new Main Street streetscape, amphitheater and library were all guided by public committees.

The advisory committees became champions and advocates for their projects.  Members worked to smooth ruffled feathers, publicize the projects, and keep the community focused on the vision of what was being created.  The committees also helped raise funds for the project, securing grants, donations, and seeking out partnerships to get the work done.  In the case of the library task force, the group’s 30 members helped pass a $500,000 bond measure to fund construction, raised $71,000 in local donations and an additional $1.2 million from state, federal and private grants. The library task force now operates as the non-profit Friends of the Independence Library and raises over $10,000 annually to support library operations.

The community was so invigorated with the implementation of the 1996 downtown development plan that by the mid-2000’s most of the plan’s tasks had been accomplished.  In 2008, the City undertook the Vision 2020 action planning process to identify new goals, tasks, and to broaden the vision beyond just the downtown. As with the 1996 plan, there was significant public involvement, with over 1,000 people (more than 10% of our population!) participating in surveys, meetings and planning sessions.  The new planning process reinvigorated and reaffirmed the public’s interest in community issues and created a new list of projects.

The city has continued to use public advisory groups to guide many of its major projects, including selecting a site for a new city hall and master planning a 50 acre ballfield complex.

Building from the citizen planning culture that began in the 1990s in Independence, citizens began coming to the city with projects. Citizens planned, designed, and built two playgrounds, a dog park, a 5k running trail and a variety of other public assets.  These were possible due to the joint partnership of the city and citizens to make their ideas a reality. People need gathering places, places to get out, move around, and bump into people.  Parks are an ideal gathering place and typically are the focal points for the surrounding neighborhood.  By revitalizing these parks, and doing it in a way that engaged the community, the city was able to better connect its citizens, inspire them, and create the interactions that tie people closer together in a way that makes communities both safer and more enjoyable to live in.

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