FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
City Council was provided an update on the City’s Forward SGF Comprehensive Plan at a March 22 workshop at the Springfield Art Museum. A recording will be available for public viewing as soon as possible at cityview.springfieldmo.gov.
The City began the Comprehensive Planning process in June 2019. It was estimated to take approximately two years to complete, however the pandemic set the process back about a year, according to Principal Planner and Forward SGF project manager Randall Whitman.
“Under normal circumstances, that timeline would have been easily achieved, however, the last two years have created some challenges,” Whitman said. “The development of any community plan, especially one as diverse as this one depends greatly on one-on-one interaction with residents, elected officials and members of the planning and consulting team. We anticipate a draft available for community review in late spring and adoption by the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council sometime this summer.”
For the past year, City staff and Chicago-based consultants Houseal Lavigne Associates have been actively working on developing a preliminary draft of the plan. City staff has been reviewing narratives, graphics and maps for chapter elements, including goals and recommendations. City staff is currently reviewing the initial drafts of each of the plan’s chapters, area and subarea plans. Hundreds of comments and edits have been logged with consultants on each of the seven-plus chapters of the plan document.
Plan focus and priorities
“Forward SGF is dependent on a structured flow of information, organized around key planning elements that shape community growth that also speak to community priorities,” Whitman said. “Forward SGF revolves around the guiding principle of creating quality of place. Quality of place can be easily defined as the creation of a desirable and economically vibrant city to live, work and play.”
Quality of place prioritizes stewardship, creating complete neighborhoods, and creating a vital economy. At their core, cities provide housing, employment, education, entertainment, resources and services to meet the needs of a wide array of people. The framework for Springfield’s Comprehensive Plan is structured around the below priorities, along with the guiding principle of creating quality of place, Whitman said.
Creating a desirable and economically vibrant city that has a high degree of “livability” relies on investing in quality places and nurturing the city’s image and identity. From neighborhoods to downtown, Springfield will continually be challenged in the coming years to increase maintenance and care of core community elements. Creating strategies and aligning resources with responsible use and protection of the natural and built environment will pay dividends for decades to come. Stewardship will need to extend to expand care for the city’s identity, including image and our approach to citizenship, leaving a lasting good impression of Springfield on visitors, potential investors, and current and future residents and business leaders.
Stewardship plays a significant role in many areas of the plan’s reach, as new investment and maintenance of existing and planned facilities, infrastructure, and services are impacted by recommendations included in the plan.
“For example, annexation and growth impact services and resources for existing residents, businesses, and neighborhoods. The City will weigh expansion against existing and planned commitments, balancing the need for growth on the fringes against initiatives for already incorporated areas recommended by the plan. Forward SGF prioritizes stewardship of neighborhoods and the local economy as fundamental components of creating quality places,” Whitman said.
Creating healthy and prosperous neighborhoods revolves around preservation and revitalization. Developing a diverse toolbox of strategies to rally new investment and energize community involvement will be critical to realizing improvement in some neighborhoods, and conservation in others.
Springfield’s neighborhoods are as diverse as they are vast. Made up of an eclectic mix of older, historic, and modern, suburban-style neighborhoods nestled in the urban core, Springfield is uniquely positioned to create a niche that other suburban communities cannot offer. At the heart of any neighborhood is the necessity to provide diverse housing options for a diverse range of residents with a wide array of needs and preferences. Beyond offering diverse housing options, amenities and services should be located within reasonable distance of neighborhoods.
Neighborhood revitalization will also require changes in how some residential areas are perceived by the greater Springfield community. Creating clean, safe, and friendly amenity-rich neighborhoods that are in close-proximity to trails, parks, and neighborhood-scale markets and districts will advance new investment and establish Springfield as a preferred choice to reside.
Creating a vital local economy will require implementation of a wide array of tactics and strategies to compete with changing technology, market trends, and consumer preferences. Taking on the digital marketplace and responding to the gig economy will require the City be devoted to increasing the everyday and everyplace experience factor. Investing and reimagining commercial corridors and mixed-use districts will require planning and the application of new methodologies and perspectives.
Promoting flexibility and incentives to attract entrepreneurs, start-ups, and a remote workforce will lead the way in the post-pandemic years to come. Attracting investors, retirees, and a workforce who choose place before profession will require investing in aesthetics, landscaping, and community beautification. Adjusting to changing trends and adopting strategies that support a high degree of use flexibility in exchange for quality design and construction will be prioritized. The creation of quality places will lead the growth of our local economy and provide an edge to compete with surrounding communities and markets for visitors and those looking to remain or relocate to Springfield to live and invest in new ventures, Whitman said.
The Comprehensive Plan is divided into the following seven chapter elements and seven subarea plans:
- Introduction and Community Profile
- Land Use and Development
- Housing and Neighborhoods
- Economic Development
- Transportation and Transit
- Infrastructure and Community Facilities
- Parks, Greenways, and Natural Resources
- Area and Subarea Plans
- Downtown Plan
- Commercial Street Plan
- Boonville Corridor
- Chestnut Expressway Corridor
- Glenstone Avenue Corridor
- East Trafficway Corridor
- Lake Springfield Subarea.
In addition to the core elements above, three comprehensive cross-cutting themes will be woven into each chapter:
- Community Physical Image
- Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation
- Health and Well-being.
The Comprehensive Plan will include recommendations and targeted strategies to achieve the objectives and goals outlined in the plan.
Forward SGF will include the following key initiatives as well as others. While these are still in development, some potential key initiatives identified are:
- Restore SGF – neighborhood revitalization
- Development shift from land use to design-based focus
- Comprehensive City Code reform
- “Un-gap the map” (closing gaps in the Ozark Greenways trail network)
- Entrepreneurial stewardship
- Corridor planning, beautification and right of way management
- Neighborhood and activity center plan development
- Connecting with nature
- Growth and annexation
- Regional planning.
For more information, or to set up an interview with Whitman and/or Houseal Lavigne representatives, please contact Cora Scott at 417-380-3352.