VALPARAISO | The city has chosen a consulting team headed by ACP Visioning and Planning, of Columbus, Ohio, to develop what will be the most ambitious strategic plan in Valparaiso's history.
"We are at a point where what needs to be done is not so obvious," Mayor Jon Costas said at Monday's council meeting. "We need extensive interaction with the people to hear what Valparaiso looks like to them in 10 or 20 years. The plan will serve as a compass for what might come."
City Planning Director Tyler Kent said proposals were received from more than 10 firms interested in working on the yearlong project. ACP will team with Burgess and Niple, also of Columbus, which will concentrate on transportation, traffic, utility infrastructure and sustainability issues, and Randall Gross, which will look at economic impacts of the plan.
The consultants will begin work in June. Kent said ACP will become acquainted with the city during the first couple of months and then will begin meetings with various community groups, city employees and others. It also will meet with the general public, and Costas said the goal is for everyone to be involved.
The result will be a series of plans, the first looking out for projects that should be done within five years, another for five to 10 years into the future and the third for 10 to 20 years ahead.
Councilman Joey Larr asked if any local firms or Indiana firms were considered. Kent said one of the three finalists was from Indianapolis, but committee members who interviewed the consultants thought ACP was the best fit for Valparaiso.
"They are outside the city, and they will do a deep dive to come up with the plan," Kent said. "They've done a broad range of projects."
Councilwoman Deb Butterfield, a member of the committee, said ACP would bring fresh eyes to the project and "ask different questions than we'd ask ourselves."
The council introduced an ordinance to appropriate $106,600 from its riverboat casino funds. City Administrator Bill Oeding said $6,600 will go to pay for the remaining amount due consultants for work on the city's comprehensive plan and the study of the city's compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The rest will be the first year's payment for the strategic plan with a second $100,000 payment to be made in 2014.
"It's the most involved and interactive process any city has undertaken," Costas said. "I'm very excited about it."