VALPARAISO | Business leaders, city officials and residents of Valparaiso identified such issues as downtown parking, downtown traffic, transportation, the environment and locally grown food options as priorities that should be addressed in the coming years.
They gathered at Thomas Jefferson Middle School on Monday night for a workshop to help envision needs and plans for the city in the future.
The workshop is the first step of many in the strategic visioning and planning program called ValpoNEXT, led by consultant Jamie Greene, principal of Planning Next of Columbus, Ohio.
“Parallel to the work you are doing here, we are also looking at the trends. We are looking at the aging population, at the economic trends, and we look to you and your wisdom of living here in this community, so this is an opportunity to really think big and it’s a chance to be bold about what we are doing, thinking about the place you want your children or grandchildren to grow up in,” Greene told the group.
Mayor Jon Costas, who was present at the session, said the process is just as important as the outcome.
“It’s the perfect time to hear from our citizens on where they want Valparaiso to be 10, 20, 30 years from now. This is one of the most comprehensive efforts Valparaiso has undertaken, and we have invested $200,000 in this effort so it is very important to us,” Costas said.
He said the city has accomplished many of its long-term projects or has projects in the works, so officials sought the input of the community for envisioning the future.
“We want to hear from every single person in this effort to paint a picture that will serve as compass,” he said.
The planning process will continue with a series of workshops and data collection via valponext.mindmixer.com. The process is expected to be completed in late summer.
The initial workshops will continue from noon to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at Grace Chapel, 157 Lafayette St., and from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Valparaiso High School, 2727 N. Campbell St.
For information, visit www.valponext.org or call Valparaiso Planning Director Tyler Kent at (219) 462-1161, ext. 3331.