Springfield, MO

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Opinion: Leaders leave fingerprints on community planning

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Strategic planning is the hot topic in Springfield.

The city of Springfield is leading the community through a sequel to Vision 20/20. More than 240 volunteers spent the past year crafting 13 chapters with four major themes that will serve as the road map for development and new services.

The bar has been set high since the original Vision 20/20. In center city alone, the work on the plan over the last dozen years has produced $400 million in new investment, including the IDEA Commons urban research park, the St. Louis Cardinals Double-A baseball franchise, 600 new loft apartments, record college enrollments, and dozens of new restaurants and retail stores.

Learning from that success is important in order to surpass those results during the next 20 years. While hundreds of people dedicated thousands of volunteer hours during the 1990s, three leaders personified key ingredients to Vision 20/20:

Fred May
As the city’s former director of planning and development, Fred May facilitated connections. He was a champion for alternative transportation with a vision that linked north-south, and east-west with options for all walks of life. The memorial bearing his name along South Creek greenway trail is a fitting spot to witness all those enjoying the fruits of his labor and to contemplate what can be done to build on that legacy now that gas is nearing $4 a gallon.

More importantly, though, May faithfully coordinated City Council’s wishes to open the planning process to everyone. Whether it was voting on priorities at community events or serving on committees, the final version of Vision 20/20 was truly the product of thousands of people from across the area.

John Q. Hammons
John Q. Hammons didn’t serve on a Vision 20/20 committee. But he embodies the maxim, “Those with the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action.”

Through his progressive vision and prolific philanthropy, Springfield’s center city has been transformed with Hammons Tower, a Division I basketball arena and major concert venue (bringing the likes of Elton John and the Eagles to the Queen City), Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts, Hammons Field, two downtown hotels, the Expo Center, and Drury’s School of Architecture. It was likely a matter of personal pride for him to bring such first-class amenities to his adopted hometown.

Few have access to the financial resources of Hammons. Everyone, however, has valuable time, treasure and talents that can be shared to improve our quality of life.

Lloyd Young
Just as important as facilitating grand plans and building iconic landmarks, Lloyd Young gathered and shepherded civic leaders in the city’s Good Community Committee. By their very nature, red-flag issues emerge, evolve and refuse to adhere to the best-laid plans. The roundtable format educates its members on the root causes of key issues and seeks collaborative ways to bring public and private organizations to the table. The recent Civility Project and Diversity and Economic Development Summit were both projects of the Good Community Committee and wonderfully representative of its founder.

Notable Chicago architect Daniel Burnham’s quote is just as real today as it was when it was originally penned a century ago and as the mantra for the first Vision 20/20: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency.”

In the spirit of May, Hammons and Young, dare to have big plans for Springfield. Leave your fingerprints on the community for the benefit of our children and grandchildren.

Rusty Worley, executive director of Urban Districts Alliance, can be reached at[[In-content Ad]]


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