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John Houseal, principal of Houseal Lavigne Associates, consults city officials on June 21.
SBJ photo by Jessica Rosa
John Houseal, principal of Houseal Lavigne Associates, consults city officials on June 21.

City takes first step toward new comprehensive plan

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With help from a newly hired consultant, Springfield City Council and Planning & Development Department members were charged with their first step toward the city’s new comprehensive plan.

During a June 21 workshop at the Lake Springfield Boathouse, Planning & Development Director Mary Lilly Smith and Mayor Ken McClure asked city officials to consider people in the community who could be recommended to join the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee by July 1. Houseal Lavigne Associates, the city’s consultant on the comprehensive plan, also was represented at the workshop by principal John Houseal.

Smith said the committee would comprise 12-15 people who would assist the city and provide feedback as they work through the planning process for the new comprehensive plan. It’s a 20-year outlook for Springfield post-Vision 20/20, which was created in 1998.

“We want to make sure we’re representative of the entire community, and I think that's going to be the larger challenge,” Smith said. “If we limit the size to a manageable size, everybody’s going to have to check more than one box.”

Members of the CPAC should collectively represent the city’s land use, planning and zoning, business and development, education, arts and neighborhood communities, Smith said. The group also should have input on the city’s walkability, greenways and parks, and center city, while showing a range of diversity in terms of age, gender and income.

“We’re planning for the next 20 years, and so, should we be planning for what the mayor and I want in the next 20 years?” Smith asked, suggesting the group may need to trend toward younger individuals.

“I want a good nursing home,” McClure joked.

Zone 1 Councilwoman Phyllis Ferguson suggested including a representative from the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Smith agreed.

McClure was confident council and Planning & Development members could pull together a well-rounded committee.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of folks that can check several boxes,” McClure said.

Houseal Lavigne Associates’ Houseal suggested thinking of the CPAC as a community sounding board. The city in May penned a $657,000 contract with Houseal Lavigne Associates for an 18- to 24-month consulting period.

“You can’t get 160,000 people in a room every time you want to kick around some ideas,” he said. “It has to be a plan that reflects the entire community.”

The schedule for the comprehensive plan has been outlined in a nine-step process, which Houseal provided to the city on Friday. Three community workshops, where residents can identify key issues in the city, are being planned for August and September, according to the schedule.

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