With a new community-visioning project in place, the city is currently looking to its residents to solicit ideas for the future that will help create a strategic plan for the city.
Officially dubbed the City of Sanford Community Vision and Strategic Plan, the process aims to set a clear course for the future that links a community-defined vision to strategies, actions and outcomes.
The process began in August when the city contracted with Renaissance Planning Group for $149,774 to implement the project. Renaissance Planning will work with city staff and residents over 12 months to examine a range of community development, planning and economic-related issues facing the city and define a vision to help set priorities and actions to address those issues.
The first step of this process was appointing a steering committee made up of residents and business owners from around the city. The steering committee meets the third Monday of each month and works with the city to define goals and issues.
The next step, which was implemented last week, was the launch of a website that gives an online forum for residents to influence Sanford’s community vision and strategic plan.
ImagineSanford.com gives participants an opportunity to share their ideas, provide insight and discuss the future of the city. The ideas and comments posted to the webpage will be reviewed by the steering committee to help shape the project.
Economic Development Director Nicholas Mcray said the website provides an opportunity for those who may not be able to attend meetings to give their input. Some of the topics that are currently being discussed on the website are people’s favorite places, areas for improvement in the city and preferred modes of transportation.
Mcray said the city will also begin holding focus groups to address specific topics and communities like arts and entertainment, businesses and religious entities.
In addition to the focus groups the city will hold town hall meetings during the visioning process to gather input from residents. The first meeting is scheduled for Nov. 18.
Although the process is slated to take approximately 12 months, Mcray said the city is hoping to have a significant amount of work completed by April to help inform commissioners during the upcoming budgeting process.
The final step will include the delivery of a final report that will include a summary vision, all work products, maps, tables, spreadsheets and tools. The report will be posted to the city’s website for residents to review.
Mayor Jeff Triplett said, “Together we can choose a future that fits our shared values. We can have an eclectic downtown, an attractive waterfront, productive industry, strong neighborhoods, while retaining our historic character and rich cultural legacy. It will require work and a clear vision, but together, Sanford can achieve anything.”
The 4-step visioning process
Renaissance Planning Group will employ a four-step approach toward problem solving that is designed to address Sanford’s specific needs for development of a community vision and strategic plan.
The steps entail:
• Step 1 – Set the Context; focuses on targeted outreach efforts to confirm stakeholder objectives and issues, identify values and assess current plans. This step asks the key questions “Where are we now?” and “Where are we going?”
• Step 2 – Imagine Outcomes; involves defining desired outcomes and examining possible alternatives for how to achieve results. This step asks the question “Where do we want to be?”
• Step 3 – Develop the Evidence; includes analysis and presentation of information designed to confirm the vision and direction of the community. This step helps to define critical targets and benchmarks that will help the City monitor its progress over time. It asks the question “How do we get there?”
• Step 4 – Tell the Story; consists of formal presentations and feedback by the public, advisory boards and elected officials. The storytelling step produces the final vision and strategic plan documents that clearly convey both near term and longer term actions for achieving the vision.