A Community Plan is successful if it reflects the vision of those who live, work, and play there, providing a stronger community identity in an environment more conducive for economic prosperity. The community planning process emphasizes being a place where people and businesses want to be. It builds consensus and unites a community, as they set priorities towards a common goal. With limited resources available, this is more important now than ever. By honing in on the biggest challenges and opportunities facing a community, strategic resources can be maximized; public-private partnerships can be spurred; creative solutions can surface. Many Community Plan goals can be achieved regardless of economic conditions and have a tremendous impact on quality of life in the short term. The following are examples of community planning initiatives working and in the works:
Greater Palm River Area
The Greater Palm River Area Community Plan was adopted in 2008. Their highest priorities to be addressed were Utilities and Safety. And based on their Plan's Strategy to "build community and law enforcement relationships to enforce existing laws, inform citizens, and reduce crime through greater presence (including foot presence, neighborhood watch and sheriff substations), for example, by developing a citizen liaison process with law enforcement to monitor community issues and concerns." On September 6th, law enforcement officials held a meeting tapping into local resources to continue to reduce crime rates in Palm River. This pilot program, incorporating a community liaison, is the first of its kind in Hillsborough County. Following their Community Plan development, residents took a hands-on, proactive approach to making their vision for a safer community a reality. So far, the results have been impressive. Major crimes like robbery, murder, burglary and assault have dropped in Palm River by 41% since 2009.
The Update of the University Area Community Plan Open House will be held on September 20th. To make public participation as convenient as possible, the Open House is being held in conjunction with a Hillsborough County Public Meeting on proposed pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements along Fletcher Avenue from Nebraska Avenue to 50th Street. The Update process began this summer giving business and citizen stakeholders the opportunity to take a survey. (Community stakeholders, please click to take the survey if you have not already done so.) The Community Plan as adopted in 2001 has had a tremendous impact on this community, launching many successful programs and projects including:
- Recreational Activities & Adult and Early Childhood Education Programs Expansion (2002)
- Muller Magnet Elementary School (2003)
- University Area Community Development Center's +SPIN & Parent Services Project (2004)
- Bowers Whitley Center (2004)
- University Area Community Development Center's Teen Council (2004)
- University Area Business Alliance (2005)
- Health Clinic & Social Services Center (2005)
- Coordinated Community Anti-Crime Initiative (2005)
- Junior Achievement Center (2006)
- University Area Community Center's Classroom Annex (2007)
- Affordable Housing Program (2008)
- 131st Avenue & 22nd Street intersection improvements (2008)
- North 22nd Street improvements from Bearss Avenue to University Mall (2009)
Tremendous strides were made in the last decade, this Update will give the community the opportunity to identify what is most important to focus to continue this progress in the next decade.
On September 13th, the final meeting to update the Keystone-Odessa Community Plan (originally adopted in 2001) met to incorporate input received from community stakeholders at the August 30th interactive Open House. As a group representing diverse community interests, they took great pride in a very productive process and how far they've come. Building a consensus in many areas and recognizing differences in others. The community came together over 18 meetings and two Open Houses to propose changes to the adopted Plan to reflect Plan Strategies implemented since 2001; the adoption in the County's Land Development Code for the Keystone-Odessa Rural Development Standards; and the Community Activity Center Overlay at North Mobley Road and Gunn Highway. New text will clarify the term rural by referencing its relationship to the Urban Service Area. The next step will be to adopt the proposed changes as part of the Hillsborough County 1st Cycle of 2012 Comprehensive Plan Amendments.
The status of the Balm Community Plan will be presented at the next Balm Civic Association meeting on September 19th at 6:30 p.m. at the Balm Civic Center. The next Community Plan Workshop on September 27th will cover the results of the study area refinement. Also, character mapping and SPOT (Strengths, Problems, Opportunities & Threats) analysis will be discussed, as the community begins development of their vision, goals and strategies.
Community Plan Guide
As discussed in Issue 19 of The Weekly Planner, the Community Plan Guide will describe a planning approach to be used for Community Plans in Hillsborough County. Over time, community plans will be consistent in process, format and content, a portion of which - the Vision, Goals and appropriate Strategies - will be adopted into the Comprehensive Plan. The Community Plan Guide is currently being drafted based on the outstanding input received at the August 24th stakeholder meeting. Participants were able to give detailed, constructive comments chapter by chapter in small groups. One of the key messages coming from this meeting was the need to refocus on updating existing Community Plans, so they can be focused on each community over the next decade.