If you are a regular reader of the Ravenna News, you probably breeze through the City Council meeting minutes each month and you may notice that I reports to Council each month. For a person of logic, this would indicate that I work for the City. But I don’t. I am an employee of REDC, a non-profit group whose aim is to ensure Ravenna continues to evolve into a great place to live, work, and play. Our goals align well with those of the City but we are separate entities.
Then, you might ask, “Why do I report to Council each month?” First, recall that voters approved a half-cent sales tax to fund economic development activities in Ravenna. That tax took effect on April 1st. The City then contracted with REDC to carry out these economic development activities. That’s the first connection. Second, doesn’t it make sense for two groups who share similar goals, those being City Hall and REDC, to collaborate with one another? Consider this scenario. I, being a young and sometimes overly-optimistic individual, come up with some harebrained idea that looks great on paper but isn’t right for Ravenna. Suppose I’m oblivious to the reality that is the public will because I’ve only been here for a few months. It is important that I discuss these ideas with Council-members so they can (politely) say, “Whoa, back up now new blood. That won’t work here, but this might...” It’s very important! If City Hall and REDC were to work in complete isolation from one another, both groups would be taking steps backwards or in opposite directions.
At the March Council meeting, I was asked to develop a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a new Comprehensive Plan. In the RFP, I included the minimum requirements for the proposals, such as addressing issues like housing, walkability of our neighborhoods, youth involvement, etc. In the April meeting, proposals from two firms were reviewed. Both were good; they were much better (and cheaper) than the 2009 plan prepared by RDG out of Omaha. My recommendation was that because both firms would cost about the same in the long run, Council should accept a bid from the firm they felt most comfortable with. They chose Miller & Associates because of the quality of their proposal and the firm’s deep knowledge and long history with the community. I think it was a wise choice to allow multiple firms to make proposals and I feel they acted sensibly in choosing a firm that they have worked with in the past.
You might wonder “What in the world is a comprehensive plan and why does Ravenna need one?” In short, a comprehensive plan is the recorded vision of a community and how to get there; what does Ravenna want its future to hold and what must we do to achieve this end? More important than the vision, however, is how that vision is developed. This is why the 2009 Comprehensive Plan developed by RDG is irrelevant. The process used to develop that plan was done (mostly) behind the closed doors of the consultants in Omaha who wrote it. Had they driven around our community more than once, the plan would look much different. But, the plan was written in a vacuum with little to no public participation. The City is righting the ship by doing a new comprehensive plan. This is not a plan strictly for City Hall. It is a plan for the public; it is the citizens’ vision for THEIR community. As such, the community as a whole must have a hand in developing the plan, the vision it represents, and the strategies for achieving that vision.
In the months ahead, the comprehensive planning process will pick up steam. There will be steering groups, public meetings, workshops, etc. For a plan to be relevant and of any use to the City, it must have major input from us, the citizens of Ravenna. So when you see public notices in the newspaper, the website (www.myravenna.com), and our Facebook page, please consider attending. It is crucial that you attend in order to shape the plan and in essence, the future of Ravenna.