Be part of the planning process

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The city continues to move forward with crafting a new master plan that will guide the growth of Cassville for the next several decades. The process is lengthy and involved, but we have been impressed so far with the efforts BWR (Bucher, Willis and Ratliff) has made to involve the community and its leaders in the information-gathering process. It's essential that Cassville citizens and business leaders buy into the vision that city leaders will eventually adopt, and by holding various public meetings to discuss the plan as it unfolds, BWR and the city are trying to make sure this happens.

On Monday night, I attended a Project Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting with BWR and city leaders. There were 17 people representing various segments of the Cassville community in attendance at the meeting. During the two-and-a-half-hour session, PAC members were updated on the master plan project and given a chance to participate in a visual preference survey that will assist BWR in creating design standards that could be used to help revitalize the Cassville business community.

The group also gave their approval to a community opinion survey that will be mailed out to Cassville city residents and business owners this week. The five-page survey should take residents anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes to fill out, and it is essential that everyone who receives a survey return it in the postage-paid envelope provided. The survey asks residents to rate various aspects of the community, including city services and programs, the city's attractiveness and appearance, housing and quality of life to name just a few of the question categories.

This survey is an important part of involving the public in the development of the master plan. It's vital that each resident take the survey seriously and take the time to fill it out and return it. If there are things about the city you want changed, then make your opinions known in the survey. If there are things you want to see stay the same, express that view as well in the survey. This is your chance to make your voice known and participating in the survey provides a very easy vehicle to do that. In addition, the city will be hosting public meetings in August and in October to present portions of the master plan as it is developed. Again, these meetings will provide opportunities for the public to get involved in the visioning process, which will be crucial to the master plan's success.

The plan itself is being crafted to provide the City of Cassville's with a blueprint city leaders can follow to help ensure that Cassville is ready for growth and has the resources and infrastructure it needs to foster managed growth. It's a tool that is necessary if Cassville wants continue to prosper and attract new business and new residents to the area.

In almost every discussion about city growth that we've been involved with over the years, it's come down to one very basic philosophy that has always proven itself to be true. Cities are either moving forward or headed backward. There is no such thing as the status quo. If your city is not growing, it's dying, and if citizens fight change, they are sentencing their city to a slow death.

Change is never easy, but by adopting a master plan, the city will be taking a forward-thinking approach to growth. Revitalization or economic development plans will be designed to build upon the positive attributes of the Cassville community and look for ways to build upon those strengths, such as small-town values, a strong sense of history and gorgeous natural outdoor spaces.

The more people who participate in the survey and the more people who attend the public meetings the better the master plan will become. Your involvement at this point in the master plan process will ensure that your opinions and ideas are considered and become part of the city's vision for the future.

Lisa Schlichtman