A major phase in Columbia’s visioning process ended Wednesday as the city moved one step closer to mapping out its future.
Imagine Columbia’s Future, the city’s community-driven visioning process, met for the final time to put together an action plan, which will be presented to the public at a Community Choices Open House from noon to 8 p.m. on Sept. 13.
Vision Co-Chair M. Dianne Drainer said the 13 citizen topic groups that make up the visioning plan must have turned in their goals, strategies and action plans by today to Assistant City Manager Paula Hertwig-Hopkins. She will then send those to ACP Consulting in New York, which will condense and format the proposals into one master plan.
Drainer said each action plan details how to implement the goals and strategies proposed by the groups. For example, Kim Stonecipher-Fisher, Parks, Recreation and Greenways Vision chair, said one of her group’s priorities is on the need to hire a person in charge of land acquisitions for city parks and green spaces.
Columbia Public Communications officer Renee Graham said the meeting was the culmination of the citizen topic group work.
“This is their last chance to complete a draft to present before the community in September,” she said.
Graham said the consultant will format the plan in a consistent way and be returned to the topic groups between Aug. 1 and Aug. 10 for final editing. Graham said Aug. 10 is the last day to prepare a final draft for the public at the Sept. 13 meeting, which will allow the public to prioritize strategies and turn them into reality.
“This is a chance to get a sense of what issues really are important to the heart of the community,” Graham said. “This is a way to get a sense of where the community core priorities lie.”
Graham said it is critical to have the entire Columbia community vote for the issues that are important to them.
“I would love it if all 90,000 citizens came,” Graham said.
She said outreach plans for the September meeting are still in the works, but Imagine Columbia will use community announcements, e-mails and flyers among other tools to publicize the event.
“Visioning volunteers listened to the public’s ideas and now the public needs to express their priorities for Columbia’s future,” Graham said.
The 13 plans, ranging from Arts & Culture to Transportation, originated from more than 1,500 ideas presented during public workshops held last fall.
Drainer said the community has worked hard on the visioning process.
“The groups worked an incredible amount of hours of work,” Drainer said. “It’s an incredible community of involved neighbors.”