VALPARAISO | The update of the city's comprehensive plan was adopted by the City Council on Monday, two months and a little tweaking after it received the endorsement of the city's Plan Commission.
The update looks ahead to the year 2030, when the population is projected to have increased by about 8,000. Mac Birch, principle with the consulting firm of Kendig Keast Collaborative, of Sugar Land, Texas, said the plan is a guide to where the city should grow and how.
"We looked at issues on maintaining and enhancing the image of the city and creating gateways," Birch said. "There was a big emphasis in the beginning on having shovel-ready sites for development and on how to coordinate growth so it takes advantage of the existing infrastructure and keeps the neighborhoods you value so much."
Most of the growth is projected to be to the north, northeast and northwest, and a lot of that will receive further study as part of the Ind. 49 corridor study now underway and scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. The comprehensive plan study took two years.
"It lays out a framework for the plans and projects to be developed over the next 20 years," Birch said. "There was a lot of emphasis on historic preservation, which we broadened to look at the housing condition and age and how the housing stock can respond to the market of the future without being torn down."
A controversial issue was neighborhood schools. The plan takes no stand on the matter but looks at the issues now being faced with aging school buildings, some of which are considered too small, and how to deal with those in an economically responsible way while keeping the neighborhood schools.
"We have over the last 10 years made it a priority to plan well," Mayor Jon Costas said. "Absent a plan, nothing will happen. Absent a plan, we won't get grants, and we won't see results. (Grants) will fund plans, not good ideas.
"This is a document that helps us make many decisions," Costas said. "Plans create unity, and in the political process unity is difficult to get done. I have no doubt this plan will impact Valparaiso in a positive way."