Last month, Thomasville took another important step in the development of a comprehensive plan which promises to place the community on the road to positive growth for all of its citizens. The year-long planning effort, known as Blueprint: Thomasville 2028, has eagerly sought citizen input in order to create a plan that is truly inclusive of all sections of Thomasville and her population.
“We started the process in May when a team of consultants, City leaders and members of our citizen-led steering committee conducted a series of workshops inviting residents to come and share ideas and concerns related to the community,” said Brian Herrmann, City Planner. “This information was then studied and analyzed by the consulting team and became a roadmap to help us continue the conversation during the fall charrette.”
The city is working with Dover, Kohl & Partners to assist with the development of the comprehensive plan. This team will use their experience, skill and knowledge to assist the Thomasville community through the process of identifying citizens’ priorities and guide the subsequent planning efforts.
“We are very fortunate to have so many knowledgeable experts in their respective fields to assist us with the comprehensive planning process,” said Herrmann. “Our team includes consultants in the areas of architecture, planning, transportation, design, economic development and more. Each one brings a specific skill set to the table which helps guide the conversations we are able to have with our community.”
During the Blueprint: Thomasville community workshops that were held September 18-22, the consulting team returned to Thomasville to dig deeper into those areas of interest through a variety of events ranging from a large kick-off event held at the Municipal Auditorium to casual conversations with anyone who wanted to drop by the temporary design studio set up on W. Jackson. Over the five days of the charrette, over 600 Thomasville residents participated in some aspect of this important planning process. “We had 180 people who attended the Monday night kick-off event,” said Herrmann. “About half of this number was there for the first time, actively participating in planning their community. That’s exactly the kind of input we wanted and what will be invaluable in helping us develop a plan that reflects the desires of our entire community. These new voices are a vital part of creating a more inclusive and effective plan.”
An important feature utilized during the workshops was audience response technology, which allowed the consultants to ask specific questions regarding design elements and gain immediate feedback from participants. “This helps us to know right away what our community prefers when it comes to street design or signage or any number of items that will help guide the design process,” said Herrmann. “It allowed our team to unveil a tentative work-in-progress presentation that used the information that was given straight from our community. That kind of feedback in real time is extremely valuable.”
The work-in-progress presentation was delivered on the final day of the charrette and included several themes that will now be explored more deeply for possible inclusion in what will become the final plan. Those themes included building great streets; maximizing connectivity; expanding housing options; growing, attracting, protecting and enhancing character; and creating a prosperous, inclusive city. Herrmann said that now that these key elements have been identified, the work can begin to best determine how to implement them into the final plan.
“The comprehensive planning process is not a plan that is put together quickly,” said Herrmann. “It is one that we thoughtfully and intentionally develop using all of the input that has been provided by our community. It is very much an open dialog and what was presented last month is not the final plan; there will be additional opportunities for public input.”
From here, Herrmann explained that the consulting team will use the very detailed data that was collected during each of their visits to continue shaping and refining the Blueprint: Thomasville 2028 plan. “Our next step will be a draft plan that will be presented to our staff later this year and then a public draft presentation next spring. Completion and delivery of the final plan is expected in the summer of 2018.”
More information, including the work-in-progress draft presentation are available on BlueprintThomasville.org.